Justplainbill's Weblog

August 20, 2018

Katie Hopkins, must see video

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 2:25 pm

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ToDsfkwvikw?rel=0&showinfo=0&autoplay=1

Ms Hopkins is a London UK journalist. She is speaking of exactly what she sees.

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August 14, 2018

The Deflation of the Academic Brand, by Victor D. Hanson, PhD [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 7:50 pm

When self-professed experts are wrong over and over, for decades, what’s the value of a university degree?

Trumpism is sometimes derided as an updated know-nothingism that rejects expertise and the input of credentialed expertise. Supposedly, professionals who could now save us tragically have their talent untapped as they sit idle at the Council of Foreign Relations, the economics Department at Harvard, or in the offices of the Brookings Institution — even as Trump’s wheelers and dealers crash and burn, too proud, too smelly, or too ignorant to call in their betters to come in and save Trump from himself.

But do the degreed classes, at least outside math, the sciences, engineering, and medicine, merit such esteem anymore?

Anthony Scaramucci’s Harvard Law degree seemed no guarantee of the Mooch’s circumspection, sobriety, or good judgement.

Bruce Ohr’s similar degree did not ensure either common sense or simple ethics. Or, on the contrary, perhaps at Harvard he learned that progressive ends justify any means necessary to obtain them. In any case, Ohr thought there was nothing wrong in keeping quiet about his spouse’s work on the discredited Steele dossier, or indeed in aiding and abetting the seeding of it, while he was the fourth-ranking official at Trump’s Department of Justice.

The Mueller team — along with a group of now disgraced, reassigned, and retired officers at the top echelons of the FBI, the descent of ex-CIA head John Brennan and ex-DIA chief James Clapper into caricature, the shenanigans of unmaskings and leaking at the Obama National Security Council, the warping of the FISA courts, the disingenuous operatives at Fusion GPS, and the implantation of informants into the Trump campaign — recalls the arrogant self-righteousness of the degreed geniuses who took us into Vietnam.

But this time around, the “best and brightest” (remember the media’s hagiographic praise of Mueller’s “all-stars” and “dream team”) would save us from Trump — much as John F. Kennedy’s and Lyndon Johnson’s whiz kids would deliver us from the North Vietnamese.

The liberal Washington Post recently fact-checked some of the claims of the new socialist candidate for Congress in New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has often boasted of her college erudition. (“How many other House Democrats have a degree in economics like I do?”) Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly noted that she graduated fourth in her class at Boston University, with a joint degree in economics and international relations. Yet most of her major statements that she has made since coming onto the national scene have proven either wrong or unhinged.

In an interview on the rebirthed Firing Line, the international-relations major was forced to admit that she knew relatively little about the facts on the ground in the Israeli–Palestinian dispute, other than boilerplate left-wing anti-Israeli talking points. She claimed that the unemployment rate is low because “everyone has two jobs” In truth, only one in 20 do, about 5 percent of the American workforce.

Crazier was her statement that the “upper middle class does not exist anymore.” In fact, its numbers are at a near all-time high, nearly encompassing one-third of adults.

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A series of Ocasio-Cortez’s assertions about Medicare and Obamacare turn out to be equally fallacious. She claimed that ICE had a “bed quota” that had to be filled by unsuspecting immigrants. That too is a false statement. ICE keeps a minimum of 34,000 beds for surges of detainees, but it is absurd to suggest that the agency must keep them filled.

No doubt Ocasio-Cortez, at 28, is still young and inexperienced. But when she refers to her own supposedly stellar academic record, and then in a series of statements illustrates how poorly educated she is, one wonders, What exactly is the value of $300,000 Boston University degree?

We could ask the same about Sarah Jeong’s UC Berkeley B.A. and Harvard Law degrees. Years of Jeong’s racist tweets surfaced, creating a firestorm, shortly after the New York Times hired her as a writer and member of the editorial board. Responding to critics, the Times noted that it had reviewed Jeong’s social-media history before hiring her.

Given her lack of prior publications (other than The Internet of Garbage) and accomplishments, it is hard to ascertain what on her résumé earned her the New York Times billet other than her clearly anti-white, anti-male, and anti-nuclear-family prejudices. And like Ocasio-Cortez, Jeong combined her smugness with puerile ignorance.

Jeong thought her banal and shop-worn comparisons of Trump to Hitler were somehow proof of her own genius: “I was equating Trump to Hitler before it was cool.” She lauded herself: “How f***ing prescient was I on Trump = Hitler.” (She did not use asterisks.) Actually, not very at all — given, most recently, the near daily dreary brown shirt/Hitler/Mussolini slurs leveled at George W. Bush during the Iraq War.

Narcissism, superciliousness, and tragic buffoonery combined to produce another Jeong declaration: “White people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along.” As a self-described Hitler expert, she might have known that others had predated her on matters of a “plan” for racial extinction. (In her doomsday predictions of a self-induced white holocaust, Jeong, a South Korean immigrant, seems unaware that the fertility rate for South Korean immigrants is among the lowest of all immigrant groups — and lower than that of native-born households.)

Jeong, the Harvard Law graduate and veteran of gender-studies advocacies, seems obsessed with comic-book-style theories of race: “Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.”

Jeong seems to be channeling either the crackpot melanin theories of former professor Leonard Jeffries (Ph.D., Columbia, 1971) who postulated an inferior “ice people” of cruel and brutal whites, set against a superior “sun people” of compassionate and calm blacks. Or perhaps she is echoing H. G. Wells’s dystopian notion of light-sensitive, white, flaxen-haired — and cannibalistic — Morlocks in The Time Machine, who dwell deep and goblin-like in the earth.

The subtexts of the statements of Ocasio-Cortez and Jeong are that our top schools are obsessed with race, class, and gender but apparently not rigorous in cross-examining the fables and pop fads of their students. Had either Ocasio-Cortez or Jeong been required to take an exit test to receive a B.A., they might not have been stamped with any certification of education.

It is growing harder and harder to equate elite university branding with proof of knowledge. Barack Obama, another Harvard Law graduate, proved this depressing fact a number of times when he asserted that the Maldives were the Falklands, “corpsmen” was pronounced with a hard p, Austrians spoke a language called Austrian, there were 57 states, and Hawaii was in Asia.

Joe Biden, another law-school graduate, once stated that George W. Bush should have addressed the nation on television the way FDR did after the stock crash: “When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television . . .” Biden apparently forgot that FDR was not president in 1929 and that TVs weren’t introduced to the public until 1939.

The point is not to cite egregious anecdotes but rather to reflect on why Americans have pretty much lost faith in their degreed elite. On most of the major issues of the last 40 years, what we were told by economists, foreign-policy experts, pundits, and the media has proven wrong — and doubly wrong given the emphases placed on such assertions by the supposedly better-educated professional classes.

On matters of non-proliferation, almost no one foresaw the sudden emergence of a nuclear Pakistan or North Korea. Post–Saddam Hussein’s Iraq turned out to be largely incapable of sustaining a Western-style democracy. Bombing Libya into an urban desert was insane given the alternative of Qaddafi’s recent efforts at recalibration. Free-market economics and tolerance for Chinese violations of trade and commercial protocols did not result in either the liberalization or the democratization of China. Over the past two decades, we have been told that the Japanese, the European Union, and the Chinese successively would eclipse America with their respective superior paradigms.

Because so often liberal ideology is deeply embedded within higher education, bias is a force multiplier of ignorance, as if being politically correct can excuse being flat-out wrong.

Few foresaw the 2008 economic meltdown, much less the prior disastrous effect of ensuring government-backed sub-prime-rate mortgage loans to people utterly unable to meet their payments. The subsequent slowest recovery in modern times, after the 2008 meltdown, reminded us that no expert in the Obama administration knew much about “shovel-ready jobs,” or why near-zero interest rates, huge stimuli and debt, more regulations, and Obamacare had ossified the economy. The experts who assured us of the supposedly money-saving Affordable Care Act or the wisdom of the Iran deal expressed contempt for the public but delivered little to justify their smugness.

Because so often liberal ideology is deeply embedded within higher education, bias is a force multiplier of ignorance, as if being politically correct can excuse being flat-out wrong. Paul Krugman’s prediction of a permanent stock-market crash after Trump’s victory or Larry Summers’s dismissal of 3 percent growth in the Trump years as a “fantasy” did not reveal deep learning or years of high-priced expertise.

Most of the brightest and best-credentialed of our pollsters and pundits squabbled in the closing days of 2016 over how little chance Donald Trump had to get elected. The New York Times on the eve of the voting reported that the most reputable polling firms could not agree on whether Trump had a 15 percent, 8 percent, 2 percent, or less than 1 percent of winning the election. Such pseudo-scientific precision could not cloak the ignorance and political bias of our polling experts.

In truth, elite education has become a cattle brand. It signifies lots of things other than knowledge: for some, politically correct certification; for others, good test scores and grades that got them in; for a few, later entry into the alumni ranks of high business, law, academia, government, and the media.

Old-boy networks, alumni giving, affirmative action, sports, and diversity have pretty much put an end to classical meritocratic admissions. That decline of standards in admissions is perversely ironic, because at about the same time, a new campus ethos of grade inflation was predicated on the self-important notion that if you were smart enough to get into Princeton or Harvard, then Harvard and Princeton would make the necessary adjustments and concessions to make sure you graduated.
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The result of self-congratulation is that a Stanford graduate now usually knows less history than his Hillsdale counterpart. A successful self-made businessman can know a lot more about the economy than does a Harvard M.B.A., and a state-college graduate is likely to have better ethical bearings that the Clintons with their Yale Law degrees.

The Trump revolution is often attributed to the angry pushback of the deplorables and irredeemables and all those who lacked the knack for getting with the global agenda. Perhaps. But it was also a popular consensus that our experts in government, the university, and the media were not very expert, and the résumés and letters behind their names increasingly denoted nothing much at all.

August 1, 2018

Are We Headed for Another 1861? by Victor Davis Hanson, PhD [c]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 2:00 am

Globalism, the tech boom, illegal immigration, campus radicalism, the new racialism . . . Are they leading us toward an 1861?

How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?

Almost every cultural and social institution — universities, the public schools, the NFL, the Oscars, the Tonys, the Grammys, late-night television, public restaurants, coffee shops, movies, TV, stand-up comedy — has been not just politicized but also weaponized.

Donald Trump’s election was not so much a catalyst for the divide as a manifestation and amplification of the existing schism.

We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860, and perhaps past 1968. Left–Right factionalism is increasingly fueled by geography — always history’s force multiplier of civil strife. Red and blue states ensure that locale magnifies differences that were mostly manageable during the administrations of Ford, Carter, Reagan, the Bushes, and Clinton.

What has caused the United States to split apart so rapidly?

Globalization
Globalization had an unfortunate effect of undermining national unity. It created new iconic billionaires in high tech and finance, and their subsidiaries of coastal elites, while hollowing out the muscular jobs largely in the American interior.

Ideologies and apologies accumulated to justify the new divide. In a reversal of cause and effect, losers, crazies, clingers, American “East Germans,” and deplorables themselves were blamed for driving industries out of their neighborhoods (as if the characters out of Duck Dynasty or Ax Men turned off potential employers). Or, more charitably to the elites, the muscular classes were too racist, xenophobic, or dense to get with the globalist agenda, and deserved the ostracism and isolation they suffered from the new “world is flat” community. London and New York shared far more cultural affinities than did New York and Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, the naturally progressive, more enlightened, and certainly cooler and hipper transcended their parents’ parochialism and therefore plugged in properly to the global project. And they felt that they were rightly compensated for both their talent and their ideological commitment to building a better post-American, globalized world.

One cultural artifact was that as our techies and financiers became rich, as did those who engaged in electric paper across time and space (lawyers, academics, insurers, investors, bankers, bureaucratic managers), the value of muscularity and the trades was deprecated. That was a strange development. After all, prestige cars, kitchen upgrades, gentrified home remodels, and niche food were never more in demand by the new elite. But who exactly laid the tile, put the engine inside the cars, grew the arugula, or put slate on the new hip roof?

In this same era, a series of global financial shocks, from the dot-com bust to the more radical 2008 near–financial meltdown, reflected a radical ongoing restructuring in American middle-class life, characterized by stagnant net income, family disintegration, and eroding consumer confidence. No longer were youth so ready to marry in their early twenties, buy a home, and raise a family of four or five. Compensatory ideology made the necessary adjustments to explain the economic doldrums and began to characterize what was impossible first as undesirable and later as near toxic. Pajama Boy sipping hot chocolate in his jammies, and the government-subsidized Life of Julia profile, became our new American Gothic.

High Tech
The mass production of cheap consumer goods, most assembled abroad, redefined wealth or, rather, disguised poverty. Suddenly the lower middle classes and the poor had in their palms the telecommunications power of the Pentagon of the 1970s, the computing force of IBM in the 1980s, and the entertainment diversity of the rich of the 1990s. They could purchase big screens for a fraction of what their grandparents paid for black-and-white televisions and with a computer be entertained just as well cocooning in their basement as by going out to a concert, movie, or football game.

But such electronic narcotics did not hide the fact that in terms of economics the lifestyles of their ancestors were eroding. The new normal was two parents at work, none at home; renting as often as buying; an eight-year rather than three-year car loan; fewer grandparents around the corner for babysitting or to assist when ill; and consumer service defined as hearing taped messages of an hour before reaching a helper in India or Vietnam.

High-tech gadgetry and the power to search the Internet did not seem to make Americans own more homes, pay off loans more quickly, or know their neighbors better. If in 1970 a nerd slandered one on the sidewalk and talked trash, he might not do it twice; in 2018, he did it electronically, boldly, and with impunity behind an array of masked social-media identities.

The Campus
Higher education surely helped split the country in two. In the 1980s, the universities embraced two antithetical agendas, both costly and reliant on borrowed money. On the one hand, campuses competed for scarcer students by styling themselves as Club Med–type resorts with costly upscale dorms, tony student-union centers, lavish gyms, and an array of in loco parentis social services. The net effect was to make colleges responsible not so much for education, but more for shielding now-fragile youth from the supposed reactionary forces that would buffet them after graduation.

History became a melodramatic game of finding sinners and saints, rather than shared tragedy. Standards fell to accommodate poorly prepared incoming students.

But if campus materialism was at odds with classroom socialism, few seemed to notice. Instead, the idea grew up that one had no need to follow concretely the consequences of his abstract ideology. Or even worse, one’s hard-left politics — the louder and more strident the better — became a psychological means of squaring the circle of denouncing the West while being affluent and enjoying the material comforts of the good life.

Universities grew not just increasingly left-wing but far more intolerant than they were during the radicalism of the Sixties — but again in an infantile way. Speakers were shouted down to prove social-justice fides. “Studies” courses squeezed out philosophy and Latin. History became a melodramatic game of finding sinners and saints, rather than shared tragedy. Standards fell to accommodate poorly prepared incoming students, on the logic that old norms were arbitrary and discriminatory constructs anyway.

The curriculum now was recalibrated as therapeutic; it no longer aimed to challenge students by demanding wide reading, composition skills, and mastery of the inductive method. The net result was the worst of all possible worlds: An entire generation of students left college with record debt, mostly ignorant of the skills necessary to read, write, and argue effectively, lacking a general body of shared knowledge — and angry. They were often arrogant in their determination to actualize the ideologies of their professors in the real world. A generation ignorant, arrogant, and poor is a prescription for social volatility.

Frustration and failure were inevitable, more so when marriage and home-owning in a stagnant economy were now encumbered by $1 trillion in student loans. New conventional wisdom recalibrated the nuclear family and suburban life as the font of collective unhappiness. The result was the rise of the stereotypical single 28-year-old — furious at an unfair world that did not appreciate his unique sociology or environmental-studies major, stuck in his parents’ basement or garage, working enough at low-paying jobs to pay for entertainments, if his room, board, and car were subsidized by his aging and retired parents.

Illegal Immigration
Immigration was recalibrated hand-in-glove by progressives who wanted a new demographic to vote for leftist politicians and by Chamber of Commerce conservatives who wished an unlimited pool of cheap unskilled labor. The result was waves of illegal, non-diverse immigrants who arrived at precisely the moment when the old melting pot was under cultural assault.

The old black–white dichotomy in the United States was being recalibrated as “diversity,” or in racialist terms as a coalition now loosely and often grossly inexactly framed as non-white versus the (supposedly shrinking) white majority. Compensatory politics redefined illegal immigration once it was clear that not just a few million but perhaps one day 20 million potential new voters would remake the Electoral College. Difference was now no longer a transitory prelude to assimilation but a desirable permanent and separatist tribalism, even as it became harder to define exactly what ethnic and racial difference really was in an increasingly intermarried society. We soon went from the buffoonery of a wannabe Native American Ward Churchill to the psychodrama of an Islamist, anti-Semitic Linda Sarsour.

The Obama Project
We forget especially the role of Barack Obama. He ran as a Biden Democrat renouncing gay marriage, saying, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” Then he “evolved” on the question and created a climate in which to agree with this position could get one fired. He promised to close the border and reduce illegal immigration: “We will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws.” Then he institutionalized the idea that to agree with that now-abandoned agenda was a career-ender.

Obama weaponized the IRS, the FBI, the NSC, the CIA, and the State Department and redefined the deep state as if it were the Congress, but with the ability to make and enforce laws all at once.

Obama vowed to “work across the aisle” and was elected on the impression that he was a “bridge builder” who would heal racial animosity, restore U.S. prestige abroad, and reignite the economy after the September 2008 meltdown. Instead, he weaponized the IRS, the FBI, the NSC, the CIA, and the State Department and redefined the deep state as if it were the Congress, but with the ability to make and enforce laws all at once. “Hope and Change” became “You didn’t build that!”

President Obama, especially in his second term, soon renounced much of what he had run on. He raised taxes, stagnated what would have been a natural recovery, weighed in on hot-button racialized criminal cases, advanced a radical social agenda, and polarized the country along lines of difference.

Again, Obama most unfortunately redefined race as a white-versus-nonwhite binary, in an attempt to build a new coalition of progressives, on the unspoken assumption that the clingers were destined to slow irrelevance and with them their retrograde and obstructionist ideas. In other words, the Left could win most presidential elections of the future, as Obama did, by writing off the interior and hyping identity politics on the two coasts.

The Obama administration hinged on leveraging these sociocultural, political, and economic schisms even further. The split pitted constitutionalism and American exceptionalism and tradition on the one side versus globalist ecumenicalism and citizenry of the world on the other. Of course, older divides — big government, high taxes, redistributionist social-welfare schemes, and mandated equality of result versus limited government, low taxes, free-market individualism, and equality of opportunity — were replayed, but sharpened in these new racial, cultural, and economic landscapes.

What Might Bring the United States Together Again?
A steady 3 to 4 percent growth in annual GDP would trim a lot of cultural rhetoric. Four percent unemployment will make more Americans valuable and give them advantages with employers. Measured, meritocratic, diverse, and legal immigration would help to restore the melting pot.

Reforming the university would help too, mostly by abolishing tenure, requiring an exit competence exam for the BA degree (a sort of reverse, back-end SAT or ACT exam), and ending government-subsidized student loans that promote campus fiscal irresponsibility and a curriculum that ensures future unemployment for too many students.

We need to develop a new racial sense that we are so intermarried and assimilated that cardboard racial cutouts are irrelevant.

Religious and spiritual reawakening is crucial. The masters of the universe of Silicon Valley did not, as promised, bring us new-age tranquility, but rather only greater speed and intensity to do what we always do. Trolling, doxing, and phishing were just new versions of what Jesus warned about in the Sermon on the Mount. Spiritual transcendence is the timeless water of life; technology is simply the delivery pump. We confused the two. That water can be delivered ever more rapidly does not mean it ever changes its essence. High tech has become the great delusion.

Finally, we need to develop a new racial sense that we are so intermarried and assimilated that cardboard racial cutouts are irrelevant. Our new racialism must be seen as a reactionary and dangerous return to 19th-century norm of judging our appearance on the outside as more valuable than who we are on the inside.

Whether we all take a deep breath, and understand our present dangerous trajectory, will determine whether 2019 becomes 1861.

[As mentioned elsewhere on the blog, Chittum’s “Civil War II” is a must read. Last time that I checked, it was still available on Amazon but for big bucks.]

July 30, 2018

Does Diversity Really Unite Us? by Edward J. Erler, PhD [c]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 6:51 pm

Imprimis
Does Diversity Really Unite Us? Citizenship and Immigration
July/August 2018 • Volume 47, Number 7/8 • Edward J. Erler

Edward J. Erler
Co-Author, The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration

Edward J. ErlerEdward J. Erler is professor emeritus of political science at California State University, San Bernardino. He earned his B.A. from San Jose State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. He has published numerous articles on constitutional topics in journals such as Interpretation, the Notre Dame Journal of Law, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He was a member of the California Advisory Commission on Civil Rights from 1988-2006 and served on the California Constitutional Revision Commission in 1996. He is the author of The American Polity and co-author of The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration.

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The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 11, 2018, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Colorado Springs.

President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy for illegal border crossers has provoked a hysterical reaction from Democrats, establishment Republicans, the progressive-liberal media, Hollywood radicals, and the deep state. What particularly motivated the ire of these Trump-haters was the fact that the zero-tolerance policy would require the separation of parents and children at the border. The hysteria was, of course, completely insincere and fabricated, given that the policy of separating children and parents was nothing new—it had been a policy of the Obama and Bush administrations as well.

Furthermore, where is the compassion for the thousands of American children who are separated from their parents every year as a result of arrests and convictions for non-violent crimes? Many of those arrested are single mothers whose infants become wards of the government until their mothers complete their sentences. No hysteria or effusive compassion is elicited by these separations, confirming that the object of the hysteria surrounding illegal border crossers is to force open borders on the nation under the guise of compassion for children.

President Trump’s preferred solution for ending the influx of illegal immigrants and providing border security is a wall; it is also the preferred solution of the American people. Zero tolerance is an interim policy that—if enforced—will help deter illegal crossers. The hysteria provoked by zero tolerance could have been predicted, but its magnitude and sheer insanity are almost breathtaking. Some prominent constitutional scholars have gone so far as to argue that the government has no constitutional authority to control the border. And this, which seems almost beyond hysteria, from the elite intellectual class that should be most immune to hysteria!

In the meantime, a Federal District Court judge in Southern California has discovered a substantive due process right guaranteeing the right to “family integrity” lurking in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and has ordered all children reunited with their illegal immigrant parents. Obviously the judge expects the parents to be released from incarceration to join their children, but the Trump administration seems determined to keep parents and children together in detention centers until legal proceedings determine their fate.

More than a century ago, the Supreme Court announced what was considered the settled sense of the matter when it remarked: “It is an accepted maxim of international law . . . and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within [a sovereign nation’s] dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe.” This view was reaffirmed in the recent Supreme Court decision, handed down on June 26, that upheld Trump’s travel ban on foreign nationals from eight countries, six of which have majority Muslim populations.

Part of the complaint against the ban was that it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because Trump had displayed “animus” against Muslims in speeches before and after the 2016 election. The plaintiffs argued that the national security reasons for the ban were merely pretexts for Trump’s thinly disguised contempt for the Muslim religion. Although the Court agreed that individual injury could be alleged under the Establishment Clause, the travel ban on its face was neutral with respect to religion, and it was therefore possible to decide the issue on statutory rather than constitutional grounds.

The dissenting opinion in this case would have invalidated the ban on constitutional grounds, based on the idea that the President’s campaign statements and those of his advisers proved that animus against Islam was the real and pervasive motivation for the travel ban. Had this dissenting opinion prevailed, it would have created an anomaly in constitutional jurisprudence. Conceding that the plain language of the travel ban was neutral and therefore constitutional, what rendered the travel ban unconstitutional was Trump’s purported display of animus in his public speeches. If signed by any president other than Trump, there would therefore be no constitutional objections. In other words, in the minds of the dissenters, psychoanalysis of Trump’s motives held greater constitutional significance than the intent of the law expressed in its plain language.

In any case, the majority opinion held that “by its plain language” the Immigration and Naturalization Act “grants the President broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States. The President lawfully exercised that discretion based on his findings . . . that entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the national interest.” Few limits have ever been placed on the President’s broad authority to act under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, especially when national security and foreign relations are involved.

***

In the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump appealed to the importance of citizens and borders. In other words, Trump took his stand on behalf of the nation-state and citizenship against the idea of a homogeneous world-state populated by “universal persons.” In appealing directly to the people, Trump succeeded in defeating both political parties, the media, political professionals, pollsters, academics, and the bureaucratic class. All these groups formed part of the bi-partisan cartel that had represented the entrenched interests of the Washington establishment for many years. Although defeated in the election, the cartel has not given up. It is fighting a desperate battle to maintain its power.

Historically, constitutional government has been found only in the nation-state, where the people share a common good and are dedicated to the same principles and purposes. The homogeneous world-state—the European Union on a global scale—will not be a constitutional democracy; it will be the administration of “universal personhood” without the inconvenience of having to rely on the consent of the governed. It will be government by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, much like the burgeoning administrative state that is today expanding its reach and magnifying its power in the United States. “Universal persons” will not be citizens; they will be clients or subjects. Rights will be superfluous because the collective welfare of the community—determined by the bureaucrats—will have superseded the rights of individuals.

Progressive liberalism no longer views self-preservation as a rational goal of the nation-state. Rather, it insists that self-preservation and national security must be subordinate to openness and diversity. America’s immigration policies, we are told, should demonstrate our commitment to diversity because an important part of the American character is openness, and our commitment to diversity is an affirmation of “who we are as Americans.” If this carries a risk to our security, it is a small price to pay. Indeed, the willing assumption of risk adds authenticity to our commitment.

In support of all this, we are asked to believe something incredible: that the American character is defined only by its unlimited acceptance of diversity. A defined American character—devotion to republican principles, republican virtue, the habits and manners of free citizens, self-reliance—would in that case be impermissibly exclusive, and thus impermissibly American. The homogeneous world-state recognizes only openness, devotion to diversity, and acceptance as virtues. It must therefore condemn exclusivity as its greatest vice. It is the nation-state that insists on exclusive citizenship and immigration policies that impose various kinds of restrictions.

Our progressive politicians and opinion leaders proclaim their commitment to diversity almost daily, chanting the same refrain: “Diversity is our strength.” This is the gospel according to political correctness. But how does diversity strengthen us? Is it a force for unity and cohesiveness? Or is it a source of division and contention? Does it promote the common good and the friendship that rests at the heart of citizenship? Or does it promote racial and ethnic division and something resembling the tribalism that prevents most of the world from making constitutional government a success? When is the last time we heard anyone in Washington talk about the common good? We are used to hearing talk about the various stakeholders and group interests, but not much about what the nation has in common.

This should not be surprising. Greater diversity means inevitably that we have less in common, and the more we encourage diversity the less we honor the common good. Any honest and clear-sighted observer should be able to see that diversity is a solvent that dissolves the unity and cohesiveness of a nation—and we should not be deceived into believing that its proponents do not understand the full impact of their advocacy!

Diversity, of course, marches under the banner of tolerance, but is a bastion of intolerance. It enforces its ideological liberalism with an iron fist that is driven by political correctness, the most ingenious (and insidious) device for suppressing freedom of speech and political dissent ever invented.

Political correctness could have been stopped dead in its tracks over three decades ago, but Republicans refused to kill it when they had the opportunity. In the presidential election campaign of 1980, Ronald Reagan promised to end affirmative action with the stroke of a pen by rescinding the executive order, issued by Lyndon Johnson, that created it. This promise was warmly received by the electorate in that election. But President Reagan failed to deliver his promised repeal. Too many Republicans had become convinced that they could use affirmative action to their advantage—that the largesse associated with racial class entitlements would attract minorities to the Republican Party. By signing on to this regime of political correctness, Republicans were never able to mount an effective opposition to its seemingly irresistible advance.

Today, any Republican charged or implicated with racism—however tendentious, outrageous, implausible, exaggerated, or false the charge or implication may be—will quickly surrender, often preemptively. This applies equally to other violations of political correctness: homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and a host of other so-called irrational prejudices. After all, there is no rational defense against an “irrational fear,” which presumably is what the “phobias” are. Republicans have rendered themselves defenseless against political correctness, and the establishment wing of the party doesn’t seem overly concerned, as they frequently join the chorus of Democrats in denouncing Trump’s violations of political correctness. Only President Trump seems undeterred by the tyrannous threat that rests at the core of political correctness.

***

In addition to the Affirmative Action Executive Order in 1965, there were other actions taken during the Great Society that were meant to transform America. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was sound legislation, authorized by the Fourteenth Amendment and designed to abolish racial discrimination in employment. But the administrative agencies, with the full cooperation of the courts, quickly transformed its laudable goals into mandates that required racial discrimination to achieve racial proportionality in hiring and promotion.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 similarly sought to ban racial discrimination in voting. It too was transmogrified into an act that required racial discrimination in order to achieve proportional results in elections. Proportional results were touted by a palpable fiction as the only reliable evidence of free and fair elections.

The Immigration Act of 1965 was a kind of affirmative action plan to provide remedies for those races or ethnic groups that had been discriminated against in the past. Caucasian immigrants from European nations had been given preference in past years; now it was time to diversify the immigrant population by changing the focus to Third World nations, primarily nations in Latin America and Asia. The goal, as some scholars have slowly come to realize, was to diversify the demographic composition of the American population from majority white to a majority of people of color. There was also some anticipation that those coming from these Third World countries were more likely to need the ministrations of the welfare state and therefore more likely to be captured by the Democratic Party, the party promoting the welfare state.

White middle-class Americans in the 1960s and 70s were often referred to as selfish because their principal interests were improving their own lives, educating their own children, and contributing to their own communities. They showed no inclination to support diversity and the kind of authentic commitment to the new openness that was being advocated by progressive-liberalism. They stood as a constant roadblock to the administrative state, stubbornly resisting higher taxes, increased immigration, and expansion of the welfare state. Once they were no longer a majority, they would be powerless to resist. Demographers say that sometime around 2040 is the day of reckoning when whites will no longer be a majority and will sometime thereafter have to endure the fate they have inflicted on others for so many years. This radical demographic change will be due almost entirely to the immigration reform that was put into motion by the Immigration Act of 1965.

Of course, it is entirely a fiction that the American political system has produced monolithic white majorities that rule at the expense of so-called “discrete and insular minorities.” Whites as a class have never constituted a majority faction in the nation, and the Constitution was explicitly written to prevent such majorities from forming. The fact that, among a host of other considerations, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by a supposed “monolithic white majority” to promote the equal protection rights of minorities belies the idea that it was a majority faction ruling in its own racial class interest.

***

President George W. Bush, no less than President Obama, was an advocate of a “borderless world.” A supporter of amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, he frequently stated that “family values don’t stop at the border” and embraced the idea that “universal values” transcend a nation’s sovereignty. He called himself a “compassionate conservative,” and said on several occasions that we should be more compassionate to our less fortunate neighbors to the south.

President Reagan used this same kind of rhetoric when he signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which provided amnesty for three million illegal aliens. This was touted by Reagan as a way of “humanely” dealing with the issue of illegal immigration. In his signing statement, he said the Act “is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America.” The Act was supposed to be a one-time-only amnesty in exchange for stronger border control, but only the most naive in Washington believed that the promise of border control would be honored. In fact, illegal immigration continued unabated. The Act also fueled expectations—even demands—for additional amnesties, and delays in implementing new amnesties have been proffered as evidence by immigration activists (including Jeb Bush) that the American people lack compassion.

Any clear-thinking observer, however, can see that compassion is not a sound basis either for foreign policy or immigration policy. Compassion is more likely to lead to contempt than gratitude in both policy areas. The failure of the 1986 amnesty should be a clear reminder of the useful Machiavellian adage that in the world of realpolitik it is better to be feared than loved. Fear is more likely to engender respect, whereas love or compassion is more likely to be regarded as a contemptible sign of weakness. In 1984 Reagan received 37 percent of the Hispanic vote, but after the 1986 amnesty George H.W. Bush received a significantly lower 30 percent. Granted, Bush was no Reagan, but such ingratitude seemed to puzzle Republicans.

Republicans and Democrats alike are reluctant to consider serious measures to control illegal immigration. Republicans want to continue the steady supply of cheap and exploitable labor, and Democrats want future voters. Republicans are thinking only in the short term—they are not thinking politically. Democrats always think politically. President Trump wants to stop chain migration and the diversity lottery. Those who win in the diversity lottery also begin chain migration, as do all legal immigrants. Since 2005, more than nine million foreign nationals have arrived in the U.S. by chain migration, and when they become voting citizens, in all likelihood, two-thirds of them will vote Democrat. Trump knows how to think politically!

***

Birthright citizenship contributes to a borderless world. Any woman who comes to the United States as a legal or illegal alien and gives birth confers the boon of American citizenship on her child. In these instances, America has no control over who becomes a citizen. Constitutional law experts say it is a settled issue that the Constitution adopted the English common law of birthright citizenship. William Blackstone is cited as the authority for this proposition, having written the authoritative Commentaries on the Laws of England—a work that was well known to our nation’s Founders. What the proponents of birthright citizenship seem to ignore is that Blackstone always refers to “birthright subjects” and “birthright subjectship,” never mentioning citizens or citizenship in his four volume work. Under the common law, anyone born under the protection of the king owed “perpetual allegiance” to the king in return. Blackstone freely admitted that birthright subjectship was an inheritance from the feudal system, which defined the relations of master and servant. Under the English common law there were no citizens—only subjects.

The Declaration of Independence, however, proclaims that the American people “are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown.” Thus, it is clear that the American people rejected the common law as a basis for citizenship. What is substituted in place of “perpetual allegiance” to a king is “the consent of the governed,” with the clear implication that no individual can be ruled without his consent. Consent—not the accident of birth—is the basis for American citizenship.

James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration and the Constitution and later a member of the Supreme Court, perfectly expressed the matter when he wrote: “In America there are citizens, but no subjects.” Is it plausible—is it even remotely credible—that the Founders, after fighting a revolutionary war to reject the feudal relic of “perpetual allegiance,” would have adopted that same feudal relic as the ground of citizenship for the new American regime?

The American people can, of course, consent to allow others to join the compact that created the American nation, but they have the sovereign right to specify the terms and conditions for granting entry and the qualifications for citizenship. Presumably the qualifications for entry and naturalization will be whether those who wish to enter demonstrate a capacity to adopt the habits, manners, independence, and self-reliance of republican citizens and devotion to the principles that unite the American people. Furthermore, it would be unreasonable not to expect that potential immigrants should possess useful skills that will ensure that they will not become victims of the welfare state.

Immigration policies should serve the interests of the American people and of the nation—they should not be viewed as acts of charity to the world. Putting America first is a rational goal. It is the essence of sovereignty. And the sovereign nation-state is the only home of citizenship—as it is the only home of constitutional government.

[Note the SCOTUS quotes. These are precedents. Further note, the Dems are complaining that Kavanaugh should not be confirmed because he won’t follow precedent. Do any of you really think that Sotomayer, Kagan, &c follow the above notated precedents?]

July 20, 2018

Why getting out and voting in the mid-term election is important

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 6:28 pm

Politics & Policy
Ocasio-Cortez Embarrasses Herself on Firing Line
By Liam Warner

July 17, 2018 7:11 PM

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Firing Line (PBS)
It’s not her command of the issues that has made her a rising left-wing star.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the celebrated, 28-year-old Democratic nominee for Congress in New York’s 14th district, appeared on PBS’s Firing Line reboot last week to discuss herself.

The conversation was a broad overview of Ocasio-Cortez’s positions on capitalism, education, and foreign policy. One widely circulated highlight was Ocasio-Cortez’s reference to the “occupation” of Palestine, which host Margaret Hoover asked her to clarify. She responded by saying that she supposed she was referring to the Israeli settlements in “some of these areas,” which make it difficult for Palestinians to access “their housing and homes.” Hoover asked for a fuller explanation but got only Ocasio-Cortez’s demurral that she was “not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.”

So much for that. Unfortunately, this wasn’t simply the one scar on an otherwise flawless performance. Most of the time Ocasio-Cortez opened her mouth only to change feet.

She began by summarizing the principle of the Democratic Socialists of America, of which she is a member: “No person in America should be too poor to live.” That’s hardly distinctive, being the objective of everyone save the Objectivists. But from there, Ocasio-Cortez, not even halfway down the road of life, wandered confused through a dark forest of misinformation.

From this principle she deduced the goal that every American have access to health care (good), housing (good), and college education (non sequitur). Hoover, after agreeing on the goal, asked Ocasio-Cortez why she thinks democratic socialism is the proper vehicle for achieving it. She answered that DSA is the only organization that is actively pushing for universal health care and college.

Now, that may be true, but it was not an answer to the question Hoover posed. Hoover wanted to know why Ocasio-Cortez thinks that the economic mechanisms of democratic socialism are the best devised for delivering the desired results, not whether the DSA is more explicitly socialist than, say, the Tea Party. The candidate essentially said, Democratic socialism is the best way of giving us free college because democratic socialists are the loudest in demanding free college. That is the logic of a demander but not of an implementer.

Next she explained of herself and her fellow Millennials: “We never experienced, really, a time of true economic prosperity in the United States.” That is true if you omit the years from 1991 to 2001, which produced the single longest period of continuous GDP growth in the history of America. Ocasio-Cortez at that time was perhaps too young to notice, and she was 18 at the onset of the latest financial crisis, but that simply means that her dour review of the economy is based on the happenstances of her life rather than on the data.

She then offered the following explanation of the current low unemployment rate: “Well, unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.” No. That would make sense if the unemployment rate were calculated by asking businesses whether their jobs were filled. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually calculates the unemployment rate using the household survey, which asks people whether they have a job. The answer is Yes whether you work one job or seven. (The establishment survey, directed at businesses, is used to determine job creation but not unemployment.)

(Aside: Here she made a claim that the motto of the present “no-holds-barred, Wild West hyper-capitalism” is “Profit at Any Cost,” an oxymoron.)

Hoover then asserted that capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system in human history, and out came the “dialectic” we had awaited. Ocasio-Cortez responded that this progress is “part of the course of human evolution.”

Ocasio-Cortez is not actually a socialist. She is a proponent of an enormous welfare state and confiscatory taxation.

“I would hope,” she said, “that the most recent economic system, our current economic system, is the one that is most beneficial for everyday people.” As economies “evolve” by becoming more automated, however, we need to make sure we don’t “throw those people away.” She did not explain how having workers own the means of production — the long-stated socialist goal — would save them from that fate.

Hoover proceeded to ask: “In the context of democratic socialism, then, do you think it calls for an end to capitalism?” This is not a question one would ask a true socialist. It is like asking a monarchist whether he thinks the present democracy will have to stop when the king takes power. What Hoover and everyone else seem to understand is that Ocasio-Cortez is not actually a socialist. She is a proponent of an enormous welfare state and confiscatory taxation, which still preserves the distinctive capitalist feature of private ownership of industry.

But we needn’t split hairs. Moving on, we follow Ocasio-Cortez into her demands for free college and trade-school education, necessitated by our “evolving” economy. The interview was only half an hour long, but she failed to mention what this free college education is for. What are the jobs in this “unprecedented” new economy that financial Darwinism is producing? What skills do people need to keep up with this economy? We don’t know, and we get the feeling Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t, either. One doubts that a slew of gender- and sexuality-studies degrees will allow the working poor to prosper in the forthcoming automated era.

On finally to immigration. She made a good point in noting that we should consider the humanitarian consequences of military involvement in foreign countries, which might create an obligation for the United States to accept the refugees displaced by the conflict. She went on, however, to complain that “we have always legislated from a place of ‘How do we exclude?’ and ‘Who do we exclude?’” We could, of course, also ask whom to include — that’s the same question. Immigration policy consists precisely in deciding which people to admit and which people not to admit. We could admit all of them, we could admit none of them, we could select using various criteria. Rather than declare her position, Ocasio-Cortez explained how important low-skilled workers are to the economy that, as she has just finished telling us, is hemorrhaging low-skilled jobs to automation.

That roughly concludes the syllabus of errors. The fresh face of the Left was far from impressive. She has been carried this far by sentiment rather than by her command of the issues. While that is the vogue today, she’ll have to study harder if she wants to avoid being dismantled by a knowledgeable conservative in the future.

July 18, 2018

Peter Beinart’s Amnesia, by Victor Davis Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 7:45 pm

Peter Beinart’s Amnesia
By Victor Davis Hanson

July 17, 2018 3:21 PM

Peter Beinart (Wikimedia Commons )
NATO’s problems, Putin’s aggression, and American passivity predate Trump, who had my vote in 2016 — a vote I don’t regret.

Peter Beinart has posted a trademark incoherent rant, this time against Rich Lowry and me over our supposed laxity in criticizing Trumpian over-the-top rhetoric on NATO.

At various times, I have faulted Germany for much of NATO’s problems; I was delighted that we got out of the Iran deal and happier still that we pulled out of the empty Paris climate-change accord; and I agree that NAFTA needs changes. All that apparently for Beinart constitutes support for Trump’s sin of saying that the U.S. has “no obligation to meet America’s past commitments to other countries.”

Last time I looked, the Paris climate accord and the Iran deal (and its stealth “side” deals) were pushed through as quasi-executive orders and never submitted to Congress as treaties — largely because the Obama administration understood that both deals would have been summarily rejected and lacked support from most of Congress and also the American people, owing to the deal’s inherent flaws.

The U.S. may soon come closer to meeting carbon-emission-reduction goals than most of the signatories of the Paris farce. Following the Iran pullout, Iranians now seem more inclined to protest their theocratic government. They are confident in voicing their dissent in a way we have not seen since we ignored Iranian protesters during the Green Revolution of 2009. Incidents of Iranian harassment of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf this year have mysteriously declined to almost zero.

The architects of NAFTA who in 1993 promised normalization and parity in North America through free trade and porous borders apparently did not envision something like the Andrés Manuel López Obrador presidency, which seems to think it exercises sovereignty over U.S. immigration policy, a cumulative influx of some 20 million foreign nationals illegally crossing the southern border over the last three decades, a current $71 billion Mexican trade surplus, $30 billion in remittances sent annually out of the U.S. to Mexico, record numbers of assassinations, and a nearly failed state as cartels virtually run affairs in some areas of Mexico. After all that, asking for clarifications of and likely modification to NAFTA is hardly breaking American commitments.

Beinart believes that, by giving some credence to Trump’s art-of-the-deal bombast about NATO, I therefore have excused Trump’s existential threats to the alliance. Beinart needs to take a deep breath and examine carefully whether Trump’s rhetoric about the vast majority of NATO’s members’ reluctance to meet their past promises undermines the alliance more than what the members themselves have actually done.

So far, Trump has upped U.S. defense spending and by extension its contribution to NATO’s military readiness, and he has gained some traction in getting members to pay what they pledged after the utter failure of past presidential jawboning (Obama rebuked “free-riders”). The real crisis in NATO is not U.S. capability or willpower, but whether a Dutch or Belgian youth would, could, or should march off to Erdogan’s Turkey should Ankara invoke Article V in a dispute with Israel, the Kurds, or Iraq, or whether governments such as those in Spain or Italy would really keep commitments and order their troops to Estonia if Russian troops swarmed in.

Germany cannot expect an American-subsidized united NATO front against the threat of Putin if it is now cutting a natural-gas agreement with Russia that undermines the Baltic States and Ukraine — countries that Putin is increasingly targeting.

So NATO’s problems predated Trump and in many ways come back to Germany, whose example most other NATO nations ultimately tend to follow. The threat to both the EU and NATO is not Trump’s America, but a country that is currently insisting on an artificially low euro for mercantile purposes and that is at odds with its southern Mediterranean partners over financial liabilities, with its Eastern European neighbors over illegal immigration, with the United Kingdom over the conditions of Brexit, and with the U.S. over a paltry investment in military readiness of 1.3 percent of GDP while it’s piling up the largest account surplus in the world, at over $260 billion, and a $65 billion trade surplus with the U.S.

Germany, a majority of whose tanks and fighters are thought not to be battle-ready, cannot expect an American-subsidized united NATO front against the threat of Vladimir Putin if it is now cutting a natural-gas agreement with Russia that undermines the Baltic States and Ukraine — countries that Putin is increasingly targeting. The gas deal will not only empower Putin; it will make Germany dependent on Russian energy — an untenable situation.

Merkel can package all that in mellifluous diplomatic-speak, and Trump can rail about it in crude polemics, but the facts remain facts, and they are of Merkel’s making, not Trump’s.

The same themes hold true regarding attitudes toward Putin, who (again) predated Trump and his press conference in Helsinki, where the president gave to the press an unfortunate apology-tour/Cairo-speech–like performance, reminiscent of past disastrous meetings with or assessments of Russian leaders by American presidents, such as FDR on Stalin: “I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of man. Harry [Hopkins] says he’s not and that he doesn’t want anything but security for his country, and I think if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.” Or Kennedy’s blown summit with Khrushchev in Geneva: “He beat the hell out of me. It was the worst thing in my life. He savaged me.” Or Reagan’s weird offer to share American SDI technology and research with Gorbachev or, without much consultation with his advisers, to eliminate all ballistic missiles at Reykjavik.

Trump confused trying to forge a realist détente with some sort of bizarre empathy for Putin, whose actions have been hostile and bellicose to the U.S. and based on perceptions of past American weakness. But again, Trump did not create an empowered Putin — and he has done more than any other president so far to check Putin’s ambitions.

Putin in 2016 continued longstanding Russian cyberattacks and election interference because of past impunity (Obama belatedly told Putin to “cut it out” only in September 2016). He swallowed Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine after the famous Hillary-managed “reset” — a surreal Chamberlain-like policy in which we simultaneously appeased Putin in fact while in rhetoric lecturing him about his classroom cut-up antics and macho style.

Had Trump been overheard on a hot mic in Helsinki promising more flexibility with Putin on missile defense after our midterm elections, in expectation for electorally advantageous election-cycle quid pro quo good behavior from the Russians, we’d probably see articles of impeachment introduced on charges of Russian collusion. And yet the comparison would be even worse than that. After all, America kept Obama’s 2011 promise “to Vladimir,” in that we really did give up on creating credible missile defenses in Eastern Europe, breaking pledges made by a previous administration — music to Vladimir Putin’s ears.

It would be preferable if Trump’s rhetoric reinforced his solid actions, which in relation to Putin’s aggression consist of wisely keeping or increasing tough sanctions, accelerating U.S. oil production, decimating Russian mercenaries in Syria, and arming Ukrainian resistance. But then again, Trump has not quite told us that he has looked into Putin’s eyes and seen a straightforward and trustworthy soul. Nor in desperation did he invite Putin into the Middle East after a Russian hiatus of nearly 40 years to prove to the world that Bashar al-Assad had eliminated his WMD trove — which Assad subsequently continued to use at his pleasure. There is currently no scandal over uranium sales to Russia, and the secretary of state’s spouse has not been discovered to have recently pocketed $500,000 to speak in Moscow.

In a perfect world, we would like to see carefully chosen words enhancing effective muscular action. Instead, in the immediate past, we heard sober and judicious rhetoric ad nauseam, coupled with abject appeasement and widely perceived dangerous weakness. Now we have ill-timed bombast that sometimes mars positive achievement.

Neither is desirable. But the latter is far preferable to the former.

Finally, Beinart ends by mistakenly suggesting that in 2016 I weighed in with “count us out” Republicans along with the other National Review authors. And he now suggests that I have flipped back to Trump: “Now, it appears, Lowry and Hanson want back in.”

But here, too, he is mistaken. I never participated in the “Against Trump” NR issue and never counted myself “out” during the November 2016 election, so how could I beg to be let back in?
Comments

Rather, like about half the country and 90 percent of the Republican party, I (as a deplorable) saw the choice in 2016 as a rather easy one between the latest iteration of Hillary Clinton and her known progressive agenda and Trump’s proposed antithesis to the ongoing Obama project of fundamental transformation.

And so far, nothing since November 2016 has convinced me otherwise.

July 14, 2018

Why Europe Gets No Respect, by Victor Davis Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 4:03 pm

Why Europe Gets No Respect
by Victor Davis Hanson
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Image credit:
Barbara Kelley

After the recent G-7 meeting, some European nations such as France and Germany expressed anger that their views were given short shrift by Donald Trump—displaying fits of pique memorialized in a now infamous photo of standing G-7 leaders who were leaning into a surrounded and sitting Trump. “International cooperation,” huffed an unidentified senior French official, “cannot depend on being angry and on sound bites. Let’s be serious.” The former British ambassador to the U.S., Peter Westmacott, sniffed, “Trump is readier to give a pass to countries that pose a real threat to Western values and security than to America’s traditional allies. If there is a ‘method to the madness,’ to use the words of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, it is currently well hidden.”

Yet in current foreign policy journals, a constant theme is European leaders who lament that Europe does not get its due on the world stage. Why would that be?

After all, if “Europe” is defined by the membership of the 28-member European Union, then it should easily be the world’s superpower. The European project now has an aggregate population (512 million) that dwarfs that of the United States (326 million). Even its GDP ($20 trillion) is often calibrated as roughly equivalent to or even larger than America’s ($19 trillion).

Historically, European geography has been strategically influential—with windows on the Atlantic, Baltic, and Mediterranean, the ancient maritime nexus of three continents. Rome is the center of Christianity, by far the world’s largest religion. Some of the world’s great nations—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, and the United States—were birthed as European colonies. Some two billion people speak European languages, including hundreds of millions outside of Europe whose first language is English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.

European products—Airbus, BP, Shell, and Volkswagen—are global household names. France each year hosts the greatest number of the world’s tourists. Europe as a whole is more visited than any other nation or geographical area—and no wonder, given Europe was the home to civilization’s most significant breakthroughs: the birth of the city-state, the emergence of Roman republicanism and its later globalized empire, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution.

Many of the world’s greatest thinkers, writers, scientists, and politicians were European, from Plato, Socrates Cicero, Octavian and Pericles to Copernicus, Dante, Galileo, Da Vinci, Newton, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Einstein, and Churchill. And likewise, the greatest cataclysms in world history took place on European soil: The Black Death, Stalin’s genocide in Western Russia, World Wars I and II, and the Holocaust. The Western military tradition was born in Europe, and the world’s most lethal armies in history—Roman, French, German—were all European, as were the most skilled commanders, from Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Napoleon and Wellington.

Why, then, are European leaders increasingly feeling irrelevant, often passive-aggressive in their exasperation, and seemingly without confidence in either their present or their illustrious past, and so often ignored by major powers?

In most high-stakes diplomacy—denuclearizing North Korea, attempting to make China play by international norms of trade and commerce, keeping Vladimir Putin within his borders, destroying ISIS, isolating a theocratic and potentially nuclear Iran, and the perennial Israel and Palestinian problem—Europe is largely a spectator. Its once heralded “soft power” of the 1990s and early 21st century is more soft than powerful. The friends of Europe no longer count on it; its enemies do not fear it.

The high-tech revolution that birthed Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft passed Europe by. Judged by the great historical determinants of civilizational power—fuel, energy, education, demography, political stability, and military power—Europe is waning. It is spending a mere 1.4% of its collective GDP on defense. Most analysts conclude that even what Europe does spend on security does not translate directly into military readiness, at least in comparison with the U.S. military. And with a fertility rate of less than 1.6%, Europe is slowly shrinking and aging—hence the short-sighted immigration policy of Angela Merkel who apparently sees immigration also as a solution to the demography crisis and a shortcut to low-cost labor.

Across the continent, laws against fracking, German dismantling of nuclear power plants, and massive green subsidies for erratic wind and solar generation—all self-inflicted wounds—have made European gasoline and electricity costs among the highest in the world. Europe remains dependent on Russia, Central Asia, and the OPEC countries for much of its energy needs. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of the world’s top 20 universities, only 1 was a continental European university; in contrast, 15 were American and 4 British.

Politically, the European Union has not squared the circle of uniting diverse peoples, languages, and cultures with long historical grievances into a pan-European nation—at least without a level of coercion that is inconsistent with democratic values. Instead, members increasingly find European Union dogma at odds with human nature, at least in terms of entitlements, immigrations, and national security. For a continent that celebrates diversity, the European apparat is quite intolerant of dissident voices.

The result is frustration and polarization, as the EU is slowing becoming trisected. Eastern Europeans revolt at the open-borders bullying of Berlin and Paris and are beginning to refuse entry to any more Muslim men from the Middle East. Meanwhile Mediterranean Europeans see their frontline burdens of dealing with massive illegal immigration not just as underappreciated, but also as another manifestation of an earlier northern European financial diktat. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom just drifts away. In the center of these regional tensions stands Germany, the EU’s largest nation—and the one with its most problematic history. In theory, Germany asserts that it no longer is the bully of 1871, 1914, and 1939. In fact, Berlin shows little patience with those who object to its plans of dealing with Brexit, Muslim immigration, and indebted southern European Union members.

These rifts are symptomatic of an existential paradox, similar in some sense to the contradictions of the progressive movement in the United States. European government is largely run by an elite class of professional and bureaucratic careerists. On matters such as illegal immigration and financial sacrifices, their privilege exempts them from the concrete consequences of their ideology and policy: someone other than they will bear the immediate consequences of massive illegal immigration on the schools, neighborhoods, and public safety.

The implementation of a social welfare state seeks to provide cradle-to-grave support for a static underclass in exchange for its political support for an entrenched elite. The expensive social project squeezes the middle class, as taxes rise to pay for entitlements for the poor and to subsidize the lifestyles of the mandarins of the administrative state.

The European social welfare state envisions military expenditures as theft from social welfare entitlements—a viable assumption as long as the United States continues to underwrite European national security. European culture is uncomfortable with the individual drive toward upward mobility and entrepreneurialism. Its own attitude is more like the Obama platitudes “you didn’t build that,” “now is not the time to profit,” or “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” Purely private research universities are almost nonexistent. The European ethos too often sees profit-making as a violation of fairness. Equality not liberty is the operative agenda, an idea that transcends the European Union and in theory applies to anyone from anywhere who can manage to cross the borders of the European Union.

Out of this complex matrix emerges the haughty European mindset that it alone has transcended the limitations of human nature, convinced that enlightened ideas about soft power and pure reason can eliminate war, poverty, and inequality not just inside Europe, but globally as well.

Loud professions of human rights, and deep antipathy to religion as a sort of dark, unenlightened force from Europe’s troubled past have deluded the European Union about the ultimate sources of its safety and prosperity. Its postwar trajectory to affluence and security partly rested on U.S. military subsidies, as well as the ability to run up large trade deficits with the United States that supported the evolution of a globalized economy. European foreign policy in the concrete hinges on trading and profiting with almost anyone, while in the abstract it opposes human rights abuses, often by its own trade partners. Europeans talk loftily, but act either in self-interested fashion or not much at all.

The 21st century has not been too impressed. A bullying China has sized up Europe and concluded that it either cannot or will not do much about Chinese mercantilism, which is based on violations of almost all the canons of postwar trade agreements. Two-million impoverished and mostly Muslim migrants rightly assumed that Europe is hopelessly divided and completely incapable of exercising either the political or moral will to protect its own sovereignty, much less defend its political and religious history and traditions. Russia cynically accepts that an unarmed and energy-hungry Europe will not to do much to check Russian expansionism. Europe appears to Russia more worried about oil and natural gas supplies than translating its moral outrage over Putin’s authoritarianism into any concrete pushback. Better, then, to buy as much Russian natural gas as possible, while damning a supposedly colluding Trump administration for being too soft on the Russian oligarchy.

Recent polls show a general drop in confidence in the European Union by its members. In some countries, the EU no longer wins majority support. A continental ethos of agnosticism, state dependency, childlessness, and multiculturalism leaves Europe especially vulnerable to both the foreign challenges of a dangerous neighborhood, and massive influxes of mostly Muslim immigrants, as its own shrinking population is in danger of becoming incapable of supporting the welfare state and pension payouts of an aging population.

An American solution to European stasis—deregulation, tax cutting, more referenda and plebiscites, increased defense spending, natural gas and oil fracking, border security—would be unthinkable Such a turnabout would be antithetical to the European elite’s own self-perceptions and humanitarian pretensions, and would entail a collective admission of failure.

The European Union is left with its signature mythology that pan-Europeanism alone has at least kept the peace for nearly 75 years, the longest period of uninterrupted continental calm since the unification of Germany in 1871. Such naiveté takes into little account the role of an American-led NATO or the anomaly that Germany, Europe’s largest, most dynamic country, and also its most aggressive nation historically, did not develop nuclear weapons, while its traditional frontline enemies in two world wars, France and the United Kingdom, nuclearized—on the instinct that power, not pretension, keeps the peace.

The European furor over Donald Trump is not, as alleged, because he and the nation that elected him are crude, but that he and his country are needed more than ever by a continent that has lost its way.

July 11, 2018

The Strange Career of White Privilege, by Victor Davis Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 2:04 pm

The Strange Career of White Privilege
By Victor Davis Hanson

July 10, 2018 6:30 AM

A protester holds a sign at a Trump campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in July 2016. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
Rich whites invent minority pedigrees to gain advantage while they condemn poor and working-class rural whites as racist.

You hear the phrase “white privilege” nonstop in America these days, as the slogan has transcended the campus and entered popular culture.

Historically, the term apparently refers to the original European settlers who came to the United States and later equated the protections of the U.S. Constitution solely with their own majority ethnicity and race — a tribal and chauvinistic mindset that still governs politics and immigration the world over, from China and Japan to most African and South American countries.

Yet the singular transcendent logic of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence was that all people innately were created equal. It took over two centuries on the ground to catch up to such lofty idealism.

Yet given that immigration by the early 19th century was already bringing in millions of so-called non-white immigrants, in addition to Native and African Americans, America soon was at least evolving into a multiracial democratic nation united under one shared culture — a radical idea and the first such edgy experiment in human history.

During the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, the nation’s racial tensions were mostly still defined as a binary of a dominant white majority and an often discriminated-against African-American minority.

Years of past prejudice had sparked the idea of affirmative action, or federal reparatory programs accorded to a historically discriminated-against black minority.

However, by the 1980s, owing to new cycles of massive immigration, other minorities likewise explained their own inequality in terms of white-majority oppressors. They lobbied to be included in government reparation programs in job hiring and college admissions.

During the Obama administration, affirmative action was informally recalibrated again well beyond grievances by black and Latino groups against the white majority. Now it was superseded by a far more comprehensive notion of expansive “diversity” — a sort of update of Jesse Jackson’s old notion of a Rainbow Coalition of various aggrieved groups uniting to press their claims for various set-asides to a white majority.

The bizarre academic term “intersectionality” likewise followed, suggesting that gays, feminists, and minorities were united in focusing on supposed white-privilege pathologies. Yet no one quite new how to calibrate all the competing claims of victimhood by race, class, gender, and sexual orientation — as if a white transgendered actor should merit more grievance points than a black impoverished lesbian versus an Egyptian immigrant female CEO or a gay Latino policeman. Such musings are not caricatures, but the logic of the preambles to the usual progressive politicking, when a politico such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama did not welcome a crowd as a collective of Americans but ticked off all the various identity-politics groups present, all with claims against the majority.

Unfortunately, “diversity” was never exactly defined — and perhaps could not be. The ad hoc buzzword now referred to all white people on one side who enjoyed supposedly innate skin-color-based privilege, set against almost everyone else — at least sort of.

Those purportedly without white-based privilege included everyone from African Americans and Latinos to recent immigrants from Asia, Africa, and South America. A graduate student could be a descendent of a white Italian immigrant to Argentina, but have come to the U.S. as a “minority” because of his Latinate name and Spanish-speaking ability. The diversity assumption was that the minute a wealthy grandee from Buenos Aires applied for a teaching job in the U.S., he “counted” as a minority, although he could often be more affluent and whiter than those born with “white privilege” in the U.S.

“Diversity,” unlike prior affirmative action for blacks, rested on a number of other assumptions that soon proved even more incoherent.

What exactly did “white privilege” mean in an ethnically diverse society?

Mere appearance? Yet many Arab Americans and Latinos were indistinguishable from fifth-generation Southern European Americans or Armenian Americans. Politics had something to do with skin color, but how and why was inferred rather than defined. If a white-looking second-generation Arab American put on a head scarf and declaimed against U.S. policy, and if she had a name that was clearly not European in origin, then she too was a “minority” and could advance claims against “white privilege.” But should she dress in assimilated fashion and voice support for the state of Israel, then she probably possessed “white privilege” and joined the victimizers rather than the victims.

Intermarriage is increasingly common, if not the near norm. Millions of Americans are one-quarter something, one-half something else, and again one-quarter something still different.

Once race rather than character became preeminent, stranger ideas followed. In the racist past, a non-white or someone of mixed lineage sought to “pass” as white to obtain parity; in our racist present, someone of mixed descent seeks to pass as non-white to obtain advantage.

For the children of intermarried couples, it can be a career-changing decision to evolve from Robert Smith to Robert Garcia Smith (or even better Roberto Garcia Smith) to reflect one’s maternal Latino roots.

So, for careerist reasons, some Americans of mixed descent emphasized their supposed non-white lineage. They began ethnicizing, accenting, or hyphenating their names, knowing that their mere appearance might not easily prove that they were non-white. The number of students, friends, and associates I’ve known who, for careerist concerns in their adult years, recalibrated their ethnic identity by nomenclature, fashion, and politics is legion.

Sometimes even slight changes in self-identification have consequences. For the children of intermarried couples, it can be a career-changing decision to evolve from Robert Smith to Robert Garcia Smith (or even better Roberto Garcia Smith) to reflect one’s maternal Latino roots – an effort especially appreciated by universities and employers. As I have written in the past, if George Zimmerman had focused on his Afro-Peruvian mother’s lineage and become rebranded as Jorge Mesa or at least Jorge Mesa Zimmerman, an exasperated New York Times might not have reinvented Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic,” and the entire Trayvon Martin national controversy would have been retold as a fatal fight between an Afro Latino and an African American — and not become a supposed national referendum on white supremacy and racism. Unfortunately for Zimmerman, his name instead conjured up victimizing Germanic racism, not a victimized indigenous person.

In some cases, the more desperate have invented minority pedigrees out of whole cloth, like the false but self-serving and opportunistic claim of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) that she was Native American (on the basis of “high cheekbones” or family mythology), or Professor Ward Churchill’s similar fake Native American get-up that got him hired as a minority at the University of Colorado.

But even if we were all to wear DNA badges and could agree on a magical non-white percentile that qualifies us for minority status, contradictions would still surround the construct of “white privilege.”

Does the white Appalachian coal miner in West Virginia really have an innate leg up on the Punjabi immigrant exec in Silicon Valley on the basis of his appearance? Yet somewhere along the line in a supposed racist America, being a white male in Fayette County, W. Va., did not innately trump being a techie immigrant from Mumbai in Menlo Park. Does multibillionaire Oprah Winfrey have less privilege and opportunity than a white cook in Provo, Utah?

Does the recently arrived undocumented immigrant who has lived his entire life in the Mexican state of Oaxaca become eligible for career and job enhancement because he does not superficially look like the out-of-work lathe worker in southern Ohio? Is the theory that the minute the immigrant crosses the border to the U.S. from his formerly racist society, his children will become eligible for federally mandated advantages on the reasoning that from now on, they will face racism as a non-white in the country to which he fled in order to avoid racism in the country of his birth?

Federal statistics reveal that in terms of average median household income, those who loosely identify as Asian are far wealthier ($80,720 per year) than whites ($61,349). Do they enjoy “Asian privilege” of having on average $20,000 more as a family to spend each year than whites?

In terms of the most indigent counties in the United States, four of the five poorest have overwhelmingly white populations.

More specifically, the top three ethnic income groups in the United States are not categorized as “white”: Indian American ($110,026), Taiwanese American ($90,221), and Filipino American ($88,745). What sort of non-privilege allowed them to vastly outdistance their supposedly racist white-majority hosts — superior education, smarter professional choices, more cohesive family structures, all of which somehow trumped their outward appearance?

In terms of the most indigent counties in the United States, four of the five poorest have overwhelmingly white populations. That might suggest not only that the term “white” is increasingly undefinable, at least in terms of status, class, and privilege, but that “white” includes a vast array of disparate cultures and experiences that make impossible any conclusive idea of white-privilege solidarity.

In many ways, the greatest polarization in the country today is along class, not racial, lines, especially between lower- and middle-class whites and rich, coastal-elite whites — as we were reminded by Hillary Clinton’s recent disdain shown the “deplorables” and “irredeemables.”

Trump rode to victory in part on the furor of voters in the Midwest and rural states who were derided for their privilege (though they did not seem to have much) by those who most certainly did enjoy privilege.

One of the strangest elements of the American obsession with superficial appearance is the habit of very well connected and affluent whites faulting poor whites for their “white privilege.” It has become a sort of rite-of-passage virtue-signaling in which rich, white college students at tony universities damn white privilege and the supposedly racist, nativist, xenophobic, and sexist Trump Neanderthals. With this, they establish their spiritually pure fides or, more practically, earn a sort of insurance policy in case the all-seeing eye of the diversity tower turns its focus on them someday.

Donald Trump rode to victory in part on the furor of voters in the Midwest and rural states who were derided for their privilege (though they did not seem to have much) by those who most certainly did enjoy privilege.

Do not underestimate the Trump voter. When they channel-surfed cable news, or heard of the antics that took place on college campuses, or saw street-theater demonstrations on television, they boiled at the idea that they had often worked at minimum wage, saw their jobs outsourced, never discriminated against anyone, and yet were being damned by smug youth who in a few years would draw on their college B.A. cattle brand, their parents’ lobbying, and the good-old-boy network of being rich, white, and from the proper zip code to inherit their rightful place in business, investment, politics, entertainment, the media, or the university. Google all the rich, white, privileged pundits who at one time or another, both in jest and in all seriousness, have called to deport the deplorables and in their stead give amnesty to illegal aliens or import “better” people from abroad.
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In sum, the terms “diversity” and “white privilege” have now been stretched to denote so many things, and yet they encompass so many paradoxes and contradictions, that they have become words that mean nothing much at all.

How odd that the current revolutionary mode is to keep these reactionary Byzantine classifications and programs that no longer sync with reality, and to damn as reactionary the truly revolutionary act — which would be to start treating people as unique individuals whose appearance is a secondary consideration.

July 7, 2018

History’s Bad Ideas Are an Inspiration for Progressives, by Victor Davis Hanson

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 2:21 pm

History’s Bad Ideas Are an Inspiration for Progressives
By Victor Davis Hanson| July 6th, 2018
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What we now consider stupid and dangerous ideas of the past, progressives see as useful in the present.

Even liberal historians usually label as disastrous two decisions by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration: the adoption of the Earl Warren-McClatchy newspaper inspired plan to intern Japanese-American citizens and the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937—better known as FDR “court-packing scheme.”
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The latter was a crazy scheme to remake the Supreme Court, given that Roosevelt wanted no more judicial interference in the implementation of the New Deal. And yet he had no recourse until slow-coach judicial retirements opened up new appointments of compliant progressive justices. In the interim, the convoluted proposal would have allowed Roosevelt to select a new—and additional justice—to the Supreme Court for every sitting judge who had reached 70 years, 6 months, and had not retired. And in theory, he could pack on 6 more judges, creating a 15-member court with a progressive majority.

The embarrassing plan properly died.

But progressives once again are advocating something like it, now that they fear Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee might cement a 5-4 hard conservative majority—and with a possible third appointment opening up in the next 30 months. Democrats nonchalantly talk of the Kennedy slot as a “swing” vote, which in these supposedly dark times must for now be institutionalized.

They are without any self-reflection that they never entertained any such notion that a Democrat-selected justice might “evolve,” “mature,” or “grow” into becoming a swing Kennedy-like apostate from Left, much less that a Kagan or Sotomayor would ever evolve into a right-wing mirror image version of a Justice Brennan, Souter, Stevens, or Warren.

Cartoon of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1937 Supreme Court packing plan and opposition to it. Illustration by J.N. “Ding” Darling.

There are three unspoken premises here: one, only conservative appointed judges should by any logic flip, at least those bright and ethical enough finally to see the light. Liberal appointees, already bright and ethical, would not dare.

Two, any means necessary is justified to achieve noble ends. In this case, a method to progressive victory justifies resurrecting one of the most harebrained, unethical and impractical ploys that FDR ever thought up.

Three, progressives see the court as an arm of the progressive movement that can enact social justice otherwise impossible either through referenda or their elected representatives. They see it as their own private domain (better even than the social fiat power of the armed forces) and essential to checking the ignorance of the irredeemables and deplorables.

Nullification Revisited
Another crazy idea from the past was state nullification of federal laws by carving out spaces exempt from Washington’s control. Democrats tried it and failed in the South Carolina nullification crisis of 1832-33, when they sought to render void federal tariff laws.

Later, the soon-to-be Confederate States were more serious, and in 1861 bragged that federal law no longer applied to them, as federal property within their confines was appropriated by the states.

The nihilistic idea of nullification helped spark the Civil War. The few times the lethal gambit was repeated—we all remember George Wallace in 1963 standing in the door of the University of Alabama, defying federally ordered integration—it was usually smashed, given its ultimate logic was the replacement of America by the Founders’ nightmare of weak, feuding, and warring antithetical sovereign nations.

Yet 19th-century nullification is the font of the current “sanctuary city” law adopted by nearly 500 American cities that declare federal immigration statutes null and void within their jurisdictions. No matter that such liberal cities would have been the first to call insurrectionary any conservative city that declared federally protected abortion rights, gun laws or the endangered species act impotent within their city limits.

How strange that the entire “liberal” concept of nullifying federal immigration law rest on illiberal legacies that either sought to or actually did start a civil war.

Resegregation on the Rise
Another dark tradition from America’s past was the institutionalization of segregated spaces on the logic that the victims of discrimination did not deserve the protection of their freedoms under the Constitution, given their supposed innate odiousness. Yet once again the progressive Left has returned to its roots for inspiration and implemented an entire array of discriminatory practices. Special landscapes on campuses where particular races cannot enter are called “safe” rather than “segregated” spaces. Entry is entirely predicated on outward appearance—although how one’s genealogy is assessed ad hoc poses the same challenges as it once did for the racists of the Old South who came up with the ‘one-drop’ rule.

Campus dorms are now routinely segregated by race, at least sort of, given that a white “theme” house would be properly declared racist and shut down.

We have learned that restaurants and businesses once again have the capricious right to refuse service to anyone whose politics are deemed bothersome to management. Segregation and discrimination are now upheld as noble methodologies in service of leftist (and, therefore, obviously noble) ends. Of course, any restaurant that three years ago had refused to serve Eric Holder, Ben Rhodes, or Samantha Power would have faced court-ordered cease-and-desist orders and huge fines.

Again, the common liberal theme to such illiberality is exemption by virtue of superior virtue.

Censorship, Too
In fact, the Left has resurrected an entire host of once discredited ideas from the nation’s past that reveal the new illiberal progressive ethos and remind us why those practices were odious in the first place. A new drive to limit free speech is underway, not just on campuses but also on social media. The effort is almost entirely progressive-driven and based on the assumption that what people sometimes say and think does not contribute to a progressive narrative, especially when it is more logical and persuasive than the efforts of the censors.

In 2016, there was an attempt to subvert the Electoral College. Celebrities and politicos ran ads and begged and threatened electors to renounce their constitutional duties and vote in the opposite fashion of their respective states’ popular votes. Progressives apparently either were ignorant of past “corrupt bargains” in U.S. election history, or knew them well enough to remember that in some instances they had indeed subverted the election outcome and thus could be useful in nullifying the Trump victory.

Why do supposed liberals keep revisiting discredited illiberal practices from the nation’s past?

In a reductionist sense, the answers are power and the reminder that progressivism is illiberal. The progressive dilemma now is how to regain control that seems to be slipping away, given disenchanted popular opinion.

More cynically, in the short-term a court-packing scheme might work. FDR’s problem in progressive eyes was not his crackpot idea, but his inability to push it through the Congress.

Nullification has indeed resulted in an emasculation of immigration law and helped redefine even criminal illegal aliens as victims of unfair federal intrusions rather than perpetrators of often violent crime.

Safe spaces empower the entire identity politics movement and bully anyone who sees a naked racist emperor arrayed in progressive robes.

Barring entry to a customer, or forcing her to leave the premises intimidates opponents and sends a message: obey or don’t eat, gas up, or stay overnight. For a time, such discrimination worked in the South and elsewhere in ostracizing opponents and reformers, and for the present moment it apparently is seen as valuable in bullying Trump supporters into retreating into the shadows and finding underground safe establishments.

Corrupt election bargains of all sorts on rare occasions worked in the past and Trump’s election is certainly seen as a rare occasion when such electioneering might prove useful again.

The common themes in all these schemes are innate to progressivism. To survive and spread, exalted righteousness always excuses tawdry methods, given the supposed ignorance and gullibility of the unenlightened.

Short-term expediency is well worth the goal of regaining power. Any smell from low tactics later can be perfumed away—once power is back in the correct hands.

There is no such thing as a bad precedent that others less progressive, in Corcyraeanor French Revolution fashion, might one day find useful in retaliation—given that the past is a mere construct that can be continually refashioned. Today’s rhetoric can easily redefine yesterday’s reality. Filibusters can be bad, then good, and soon bad again as the anointed need dictates, just like limits on speech and ideological or racial segregation.

We are in bad times, with much worse to come.

June 24, 2018

Hillary’s Mamartia, by Victor Davis Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 7:44 pm

Hillary’s Hamartia
by Victor Davis Hanson
Thursday, June 21, 2018

Hillary Clinton could have spared the country hours of wasted investigations, debates, and near civil war had she just made three easy ethical and logical choices.

One: Had she, as Secretary of State, used a standard Department of State email server for her official correspondence, there would have been no Inspector General’s 500-page plus report. Indeed, there would have been no three-year-long email scandal that has all but destroyed the reputation of the Washington hierarchy of the FBI.

In other words, there would have been no need for all the distortions by Clinton, the FBI, and the Department of Justice. Just think of it: no bit-bleaching of Clinton hard drives, no smashing of mobile devices, and no secret meeting between Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac.

Nor would there have been embarrassing press conferences by former FBI Director James Comey during the 2016 campaign. Loyalists like Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin would have had no need to lie about their knowledge of their boss’s illegal server.

There would been no need for silly euphemisms inserted into the FBI reports to exonerate Clinton. No investigation of Anthony Weiner’s laptop would have followed. No deceptions would have arisen about “yoga” and a “wedding” as the topics of some 30,000 deleted Clinton emails.

There would have been no conflict of interest of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who investigated the Clinton email scandal, shortly after his wife had received Clinton-related campaign donations. McCabe would not have had any private server emails in the first place over which to exhibit his lack of judgment.

Two: Had Hillary Clinton campaigned more in the key purple swing states—especially Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—during the key last month of the election, she might well have won the Electoral College. Instead, quite delusionally, she sought a “mandate,” headquartered in Brooklyn and camping out in unwinnable red states like Georgia and Arizona, squandering resources as a frenetic Trump pilfered her supposedly secure Midwestern base.

Much of the illegal behavior at the Department of Justice and FBI was predicated on the administrative state assuming that Clinton would win the election. Had she done what all the experts and polls predicted—campaigned logically and won her predicted landslide—we would currently have no scandals in quite another sense.

A President Hillary Clinton would have squashed the 2016 email investigation of herself. No FBI or DOJ careerist would have been so naive as to risk a career pursuing it. There would be no inquiries into 2016 FISA court abuse. The lovebird texting of Lisa Page and Peter Strzok would either never have emerged, or would have been dismissed as innocent overzealous supportive banter by President Clinton.

No one would care that a President Clinton had silenced inquiries into how her campaign had hired Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on her rival Donald Trump.

Under a President Clinton, we also would have had no idea that the Obama FBI had inserted a spy into the Trump campaign in the person of Stefan Halper.

No one would have known or probably cared that the Obama national security team had unmasked the names of U.S. citizens swept up with FISA court surveillance and leaked them to the press. Indeed, a President Clinton would likely have envisioned overzealous careerists who may have broken the law on her behalf as loyalists to be rewarded, rather than as lawbreakers to be referred to federal prosecutors.

Three: Had the defeated Hillary Clinton only accepted the results of the Electoral College, like all other defeated candidates, there would have been no post-election collusion hysteria. Had Clinton acted magnanimously like other sorely disappointed losers—Jimmy Carter in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984, Michael Dukakis in 1988, George H.W. Bush in 1992, Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008, and Mitt Romney in 2012—there would have been no accusations of scandal.

We would not have heard that the voting machines in particular states were supposedly rigged (they were not). Third-party candidate Jill Stein would not have sued over the results. There would have been no pathetic effort to warp the postelection voting of the Electoral College. The entire Russian collusion myth and the misadventures of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations arose largely because an embittered Clinton wished to blame almost anything but her own ill-starred campaign for her loss.

Instead, an embittered postelection Clinton went on an endless global book tour. She tweeted as if she were Trump. She joined the “Resistance.” She hit the talk shows.

In these venues, she has blamed almost everything and everyone for her humiliating defeat: the Russians, James Comey, the cash-poor Democratic National Committee, red-state racists and sexists, bullying husbands who silence their wives, the Electoral College, the deplorables and irredeemables, the WikiLeaks email revelations, right-wing media, the mainstream media in general, Republican efforts at voter suppression, right-wing donors, Steve Bannon and Breitbart News, Facebook, Bernie Sanders and his socialist agenda, Barack Obama, Netflix, fake news accounts, the Republican National Committee, her own campaign staff, Jill Stein, Anthony Weiner, and on and on it goes.

The irony is that as the 2016 campaign wound down and most experts and pollsters forecast a 90% likelihood of a Trump defeat, both President Obama and Clinton had warned Trump not to be a sore loser. Obama had condescendingly advised likely losing candidate Trump to stop whining. Obama sermonized that it was absolutely impossible for any foreign nation to tamper with a U.S. election (and by extension equally impossible for Trump to win).

Clinton seconded Obama’s assertions. She chided the sputtering Trump campaign for questioning whether the 2016 election would in retrospect be fair.

Of course, to imagine what a more savvy, humble, and gracious Hillary Clinton might have done during and after the election is an exercise in futility.

Hillary Clinton is by nature sometimes clueless, often haughty, and characteristically vindictive. To understand her response to her defeat, it would be wise to turn to the Athenian tragedian Sophocles and other Greek authors.

Sophocles, Euripides, and the Greek epic poets, historians, and tragedians explore the idea of hamartia. Such an innate character flaw, such as Oedipus’s self-regard or Jason’s obtuseness, can be repressed, but it will inevitably resurface at the most inopportune moment. From Clinton’s cattle-future imbroglio and the “missing” Rose Law Firm files to the Uranium One and Clinton Foundation scandals, Clinton for over 40 years has never much worried about the wages of chronic deception and ends-justifying-the-means morality.

The next step in the slow cycle of classical self-destruction is koros—a greed or overreaching ambition that is the result of hamartia. It thus deludes the apparently successful into believing there will be few consequences to their excess. Koros makes self-reflection impossible. As first lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and a presidential candidate, Clinton saw no ostensible connection between her character flaws and a lack of success. Indeed, her fabrications, excesses, and deceptions previously led to ever-greater career advancement, and were seen as integral to her good fortune.

Koros—the mindset that there are no consequences to surrendering to innately destructive impulses—leads to hubris, or a pattern of blindness brought on by overweening arrogance. Hubris is why no one questioned why Hillary Clinton was using a private email server. No campaign aide or staffer risked suggesting to a hubristic Clinton that she was wasting her time campaigning in Georgia or in bitter defeat joining the Resistance.

The Greeks saw atê as the concrete result of hubris. Atê was synonymous with individual acts of abject folly. In the-emperor-has-no-clothes-fashion, Clinton doubled down on her delusions. So, her hubris-driven recklessness continued, if not accelerated, as she ranted about the “deplorables” and “irredeemables.”

The final act in a multistoried Greek tragedy is the advent of Nemesis or divine retribution. At some point, the gods decide they’ve had enough of mortal excess, arrogance, and folly, and intervene to destroy the perpetrator—and often everyone in his or her vicinity.

Usually that happens at the pinnacle of the tragic hero’s perceived success, as in the case of a clueless but innately haughty King Oedipus of Thebes. In Clinton’s case, Nemesis approached in late 2016, when experts had all but coronated her as president-elect months before Election Day.

When Nemesis finally hit Clinton on November 8, 2016, she was stunned, unable to even extend a simple public gesture of concession on election night. From there, Nemesis took her on a downward spiral. Clinton descended from once polling as the most popular woman in the U.S. to a rather sad figure, scapegoating, weaving conspiracy theories, blame-gaming, and endlessly replaying the disaster of 2016—a sort of poor, blinded and dethroned Oedipus wandering in exile in the fashion of peripatetic former FBI Director James Comey, whose character and fate in some ways are similar to Clinton’s.

In sum, Clinton made a series of nearly inexplicable, but clearly disastrous decisions—assuming that she could set up an unlawful private server as Secretary of State, that her 2016 victory was foreordained, and that she would deny and seek to overturn rather than accept her defeat. At any time, easy and obvious choices would have spared her a great deal of humiliation and her associates and supporters disaster.

But then again, according to the classical belief in fate and necessity, Clinton may have had little choice after all—given that her innate flaws were a sort of bomb that was always ticking until blowing up at the most appropriately tragic time.

June 21, 2018

Border Politics and the Use and Abuse of History, by Victor Davis Hanson, PhD [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 6:33 pm

Border Politics and the Use and Abuse of History
By Victor Davis Hanson

June 19, 2018 5:53 PM

A U.S. Border Patrol agnet patrols the U.S.-Mexican border near Calexico, Calif., in 2017. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Much has been written — some of it either inaccurate or designed to obfuscate the issue ahead of the midterms for political purposes — about the border fiasco and the unfortunate separation of children from parents. Rich Lowry’s brief analysis is the most insightful.

The media outrage usually does not include examination of why the Trump administration is enforcing existing laws that it inherited from the Bush and Obama administrations that at any time could have been changed by both Democratic and Republican majorities in Congress; of the use of often dubious asylum claims as a way of obtaining entry otherwise denied to those without legal authorization — a gambit that injures or at least hampers thousands with legitimate claims of political persecution; of the seeming unconcern for the safety of children by some would-be asylum seekers who illegally cross the border, rather than first applying legally at a U.S. consulate abroad; of the fact that many children are deliberately sent ahead, unescorted on such dangerous treks to help facilitate their own parents’ later entrance; of the cynicism of the cartels that urge and facilitate such mass rushes to the border to overwhelm general enforcement; and of the selective outrage of the media in 2018 in a fashion not known under similar policies and detentions of the past.

In 2014, during a similar rush, both Barack Obama (“Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back.”) and Hillary Clinton (“We have to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay. So, we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.”) warned — again to current media silence — would-be asylum seekers not to use children as levers to enter the U.S.

A few other random thoughts. Mexico is the recipient of about $30 billion in annual remittances (aside from perhaps more than $20 billion annually sent to Central America) from mostly illegal aliens within the U.S. It is the beneficiary of an annual $71 billion trade surplus with the U.S. And it is mostly culpable for once again using illegal immigration and the lives of its own citizens — and allowing Central Americans unfettered transit through its country — as cynical tools of domestic and foreign policy.

Mexico’s policies of deliberately exporting its own citizens are decades-old and hinge on providing it a social safety valve in lieu of domestic economic and human-rights reforms.

Illegal immigration, increasingly of mostly indigenous peoples, ensures an often racist Mexico City a steady stream of remittances (now its greatest source of foreign exchange), without much worry about how its indigent abroad can scrimp to send such massive sums back to Mexico. Facilitating illegal immigration also establishes and fosters a favorable expatriate demographic inside the U.S. that helps to recalibrate U.S. policy favorably toward Mexico. And Mexico City also uses immigration as a policy irritant to the U.S. that can be magnified or lessened, depending on Mexico’s own particular foreign-policy goals and moods at any given time.
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All of the above call into question whether Mexico is a NAFTA ally, a neutral, or a belligerent, a status that may become perhaps clearer during its upcoming presidential elections. So far, it assumes that the optics of this human tragedy facilitate its own political agendas, but it may be just as likely that its cynicism could fuel renewed calls for a wall and reexamination of the entire Mexican–U.S. relationship and, indeed, NAFTA.

Finally, it is unfortunate that former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden and former first lady Laura Bush have both demagogued the issue by respective grotesque and ignorant comparisons of current border shelters to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and the forced Japanese internment during World War II. At its horrendous peak in August 1944, the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex on some days exterminated 10,000 human beings and may have cumulatively murdered well over 1 million Jews, as well as Eastern Europeans and Russians.

To suggest that a detainee center is anything similar to that industrial killing monstrosity is unhinged, abhorrent — and shameful. It is an insult to current U.S. border-enforcement personnel who do a heroic job at great risk to protect the border in a humane fashion under unimaginable conditions and political pressures. And it is a greater injury to the lost 6 million of the Holocaust when their fate is so cavalierly and ignorantly used for political advantage. Hayden also should remember that during his own tenure at the NSA and as CIA director, he was constantly and in exaggerated style besmirched on issues such as “enhanced interrogation,” drones, and intrusive surveillance. He too often became the object of frequent and unfair comparisons to various Nazi allusions of the sort that he is now promulgating against the Trump administration.

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Equally ironic is that during the Abu Ghraib controversies, the Iraq War furor, and the post-9/11 renditions, George W. Bush — a constant target of brown shirt/fascist/Nazi slurs — was on occasion loosely compared to instigators of fascistic round-ups, including but not limited to the Japanese internment.

Moreover, we often forget that the forced relocation and internment was an unconstitutional and amoral act aimed at mostly Japanese-Americans citizens (among them the parents and grandparents of my current neighboring farmers), along with some Japanese residents.

It was whipped up by the feverish progressive McClatchy Bee papers, facilitated by California attorney general Earl Warren (“The Japanese situation as it exists in this state today may well be the Achilles heel of the entire civilian defense effort.”), who found the hysterical atmosphere that he helped create quite useful in getting elected governor in 1942, and, of course, green-lighted by a progressive FDR and his wartime advisers, especially Harvard Law grad John J. McCloy, a blue-chip Wall Street lawyer, FDR intimate, and later World Bank president, Ford Foundation head, and chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. Unlike Warren, McCloy never regretted his instrumental role in the Japanese-American internment.

One can disagree with a current policy without stooping to distort history to smear an administration, especially when such tactics in the past have been used against those now employing them.

June 20, 2018

The Dream and the Nightmare of Globalization, by Victor Davis Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 3:24 pm

The Dream and the Nightmare of Globalization
By Victor Davis Hanson| June 18th, 2018
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After World War II, only the United States possessed the capital, the military, freedom, and the international good will to arrest the spread of global Stalinism. To save the fragile postwar West, America was soon willing to rebuild and rearm war-torn former democracies. Over seven decades, it intervened in proxy wars against Soviet and Chinese clients, and radical rogue regimes. It accepted asymmetrical and unfavorable trade as the price of leading and saving the West. America became the sole patron for dozens of needy clients—with no time limit on such asymmetry.

Yet what would become the globalized project was predicated on lots of flawed, but unquestioned assumptions:
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The great wealth and power of the United States was limitless. It alone could afford to subsidize other nations. Any commercial or military wound was always considered superficial and well worth the cost of protecting the civilized order.

Only by piling up huge surpluses with the United States and avoiding costly defense expenditure through American military subsidies, could the shattered nations of Asia and Europe supposedly regain their security, prosperity and freedom. There was no shelf life on such dependencies.

American popular culture, democracy, and free-market consumer capitalism would spread beyond the West. It created a new world order of sameness and harmony—predicated on the idea that the United States must ensure, at great costs, free trade, free commerce, free travel, and free communications in a new interconnected global world. The more American largess, the more likely places from Shanghai to Lagos would eventually operate on the premises of Salt Lake City or Los Angeles. The world would inevitably reach the end of history as something like Palo Alto, the Upper West Side, or Georgetown.

Open borders would draw into America—and later Europe and the former British Commonwealth—the world’s poor, uneducated, and dispossessed, who would become model citizens and reinforce the global resonance of the West. Although many of the liberal architects of diversity did not welcome political diversity at all, and sought to avoid the ramifications of their ideas in the concrete, nonetheless the borders of the West became and stayed open. An orthodoxy arose that it was racist, xenophobic, or nativist to question illegal, mass, non-diverse, and non-meritocratic immigration into the West. Ideas that mass illegal immigration undercut citizen workers, drove down wages, and negatively affected the citizen poor were derided as cheap bias and ignorance.

The end result of the last seven decades was a far more prosperous world of 7.6 billion than was ever thought imaginable. Stalin’s nightmare collapsed. So did Mao’s—sort of. Radical Islam was checked. The indigent in the Amazon Basin got access to eyeglasses. Amoxicillin made its way into Chad. And Beyoncé could be heard in Montenegro. The impoverished from Oaxaca became eligible for affirmative action the moment they crossed the U.S. border. Europe no longer tore itself apart every 20-50 years.
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But soon a number of contradictions in the global order became self-evident. Consumer quasi-capitalism not only did not always lead to democracy and consensual government. Just as often, it enhanced and enriched authoritarianism.

Democracy and referenda became suspect, the moody fickleness of those who did not know what was good for them.

Nations subsidized by the United States often resented their patron. Often out of envy elites embraced anti-Americanism as a secular religion. Sometimes in the case of Europe, America was faulted either for having in the past defeated a European nation or from saving it from defeat.

The global cop, patron, market—call it what you will—was resented as not good because it was not perfect. The world’s loud second greatest wish was to topple U.S. hegemony; its first quiet desire was to ensure that America—and not a Russia, China, or the Middle East—remained the global policeman.

America itself split in two. In reductionist terms, those who did well by running the global show—politicians, bureaucrats of the expanding federal administrative octopus, coastal journalists, the professionals of the high tech, finance, insurance and investment industries, entertainers, universities—all assumed that their first-world skills could not be replicated by aspiring populations in the Third World.

In contrast, those who did things that could be done more cheaply abroad—due to inexpensive labor and an absence of most government safety, environmental, and financial regulation—were replicated and soon made redundant at home: factory workers, manufacturers, miners, small retailers and farmers and anyone else whose job was predicated on muscular labor.

A Brave, New Postmodern America
Globalization became a holistic dogma, a religion based on the shared assumptions: man-made global warming required radical changes in the world economy. Racism, sexism and other pathologies were largely the exclusive wages of the West that required material and psychological reparations. Immigration from non-West to West was a global birthright. State socialism was preferable to free-market capitalism. Those whose jobs were outsourced and shipped abroad were themselves deemed culpable, given their naiveté in assuming that building a television set in Ohio or farming 100 acres in Tulare was as valuable as designing an app in Menlo Park or managing a hedge fund in Manhattan.

The logic was that anything foreigners could not do as well as Americans was sacred and proof of U.S. intelligence and savvy. Anything that foreigners could do as well as Americans was confirmation that some Americans were third-world relics in a brave new postmodern America.

Crazy things followed from the gospel of Americanized globalism. Language, as it always does in times of upheaval, changed to fit new political orthodoxies. “Free” trade now meant that Beijing could expropriate technology from American businesses in China. Under free trade, dumping was tolerable for China, but a mortal sin for America. Vast trade deficits were redefined as meaningless and the talking points of empty-headed populists. Only America believed in free and fair trade; most everyone else in mercantilism.

“Protectionism” was a pejorative for those who believed that a retaliatory United States might emulate the trade practices of those “free” traders who piled up surpluses. For example, to copy the mercantilism of a China, Germany, or Japan would be castigated as mindless protectionism.

“Nativism” did not refer to the highly restrictive and ethnically chauvinistic immigration policies of a Japan, China, or Mexico, but only to the United States, given that it occasionally pondered recalibrating open borders and requiring legality before entering the country

“Isolationist” was a charge leveled at Americans who thought rich economies like those in Germany could afford to spend two percent of their annual GDP on defense, about half of what Americans routinely did. Not intervening in nihilist civil wars, or assuming that NATO nations needed to keep their promises, was the proof of the isolationist mind.

Failed Promises
The winners of globalization—the universities, financial powerhouses, the federal government, big tech, and the marquee media and entertainment outlets—were mostly located on the two coasts. Their dogmas became institutionalized as the gospel of higher education, the evening news, the Internet and social media.

Unfortunately, globalization otherwise did not deliver as promised. Half of the United States and Europe did not enjoy the advantages of the universal project. They found the disappearance of a good job not worth the upside of using Facebook or downloading videos. It was hard to see how someone in rural Pennsylvania or in West Virginia benefitted by knowing the most of the world’s Internet technologies were now American. It was nice having Amazon deliver goods to the front door, but one still had to have the money to pay for them. The logic of bombing Libya or fighting a 17-year-old civil war in Afghanistan was a hard sell.

The credentialed and expert had allowed North Korea to point ballistic missiles at the United States. The best and brightest forged a deal with Iran that would ensure it too would become nuclear—and then jawboned banks to violate U.S. law to allow Iran to convert its once embargoed currency into Western money.

Most of the globalized commandments turned out to be empty. A trade-cheating ascendant China did not become democratic in its affluence. Iran still hated the Great Satan, the more so, the more concessions were given to it. The Palestinian question is no more central to the Middle East peace than the Middle East is central to world peace. There is no such thing as “peak oil” for the foreseeable future.

Jeans, t-shirts, and cool did not mean that the lifestyles and mindsets of a Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos were any different from their kindred spirits of the past—J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, or Jay Gould. What we call globalization our ancestors called monopolies, trusts, and disdain for national sovereignty.

Globalization’s Cynical Laws
The entire alphabet soup of Western-inspired globalization—the EU, the United Nations, the World Bank, the WTO—did not quite end up as anticipated. Their shared creed is not the fulfillment of their originally envisioned missions, but to protect an international cadre who run them, and to ensure that any who question their missions are branded as heretics.

In sum, globalization rested on a few cynical laws: those who drafted globalized rules for others had the resources to navigate around them. Talking about abstract cosmic challenges—world peace, cooling the planet, lowering the seas—were mere ways to square the circle of being unable to solve concrete problems from war to poverty. The world’s middle classes lacked the romance of the poor and the tastes of the elites and thus were usually in the crosshairs of any global initiative. Loud progressivism was a good cloak to hide quietly cashing in. Most wished to live in a Western or Westernized country; those who could not, hated both. Degrees and credentials were substitutes for classical and traditional wisdom and knowledge.

But the nexus of expertise—marquee journalists and pundits, academics, five-term politicians—really had few answers for current chaos. They were stunned that their polls were wrong in 2016, that their expertise was unwanted in 2017, and their venom was ignored in 2018—and the world all the while could go on better than before.

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

June 14, 2018

The Silencing of the Inspector Generals, by Victor Davis Hanson, PhD

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 7:19 pm

The Silencing of the Inspectors General
By Victor Davis Hanson

June 14, 2018 6:30 AM

President Barack Obama in 2016 (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Impartial watchdogs are useless if the government stonewalls them and ignores their findings of wrongdoing.

Department of Justice inspector general Michael Horowitz, an Obama administration appointee, is scheduled to deliver a report this week on DOJ and FBI abuses during the 2016 campaign cycle. Remember: His last investigation of FBI misconduct advised a criminal referral for fired former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, who allegedly lied to federal investigators.

McCabe and at least a half-dozen other FBI employees quit, retired, were fired, or were reassigned as a result of fallout from the politicization of the FBI. Yet, as Barack Obama left office, his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, strangely boasted that the Obama administration “has been historically free of scandal.” Obama himself recently concluded of his eight-year tenure, “I didn’t have scandals.”

Those were puzzling assertions, given nearly nonstop scandals during Obama’s eight years in office involving the IRS; General Services Administration; Peace Corps; Secret Service; Veterans Administration; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not to mention the Clinton email-server scandal, the Benghazi scandal, and the 2016 Democratic National Committee email scandal.

For nearly eight years, the Obama administration sought to cover up serial wrongdoing by waging a veritable war against the watchdog inspectors general of various federal agencies.

In 2014, 47 of the nation’s 73 inspectors general signed a letter alleging that Obama had stonewalled their “ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”

The frustrated nonpartisan auditors cited systematic Obama-administration refusals to turn over incriminating documents that were central to their investigations.

The administration had purportedly tried to sidetrack an IG investigation into possible misconduct by then–Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. In addition, the Obama administration reportedly thwarted IG investigations of Amtrak, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the Office of Management and Budget.

Despite the campaign against these independent federal auditors, a number of inspectors general still managed to issue damning indictments of unethical behavior.

In 2012, Horowitz recommended that 14 Justice Department and ATF officials be disciplined for their conduct in the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal.

A 2013 IG audit found that the IRS had targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny prior to the 2012 Obama reelection effort.

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In 2014, an internal audit revealed that CIA officials had hacked the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers while compiling a report on enhanced interrogation techniques. CIA director John Brennan had claimed that his agents were not improperly monitoring Senate staff computer files. He was forced to retract his denials and apologize for his prevarication.

In 2016, the State Department’s inspector general found that Hillary Clinton had never sought approval for her reckless and illegal use of an unsecured private email server. The IG also found that other Clinton aides silenced staffers who were worried about national security being compromised by the unsecured server.

Still, Obama was right in a way: A scandal does not become a scandal if no one acts on findings of improper behavior.

Under former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the findings of dozens of IGs were snubbed. That raises the question: What good are inspectors general if a president ignores any illegality and impropriety that they have uncovered?

Answer: not much good at all — unless an incoming administration is of a different political party than the outgoing administration. Once that happens in our politicized system, there is a rare interest in not covering up or ignoring a damning IG report, but in acting on it.

We may now be experiencing one of those unusual occasions.

Soon, various inspector-general reports may appear concerning FISA-court abuse and improper behavior at the Department of Justice, FBI, CIA, and National Security Council during the 2016 campaign cycle. The investigators are, for the most part, Obama appointees, not Trump appointees.

At some point, the idea of toothless inspectors general needs to be revisited. Something is terribly wrong when dozens of IGs found wrongdoing, only to object that their efforts were being thwarted by an Obama administration that had appointed most of them — and claimed to be scandal-free.
Comments

Finding government abuse and doing nothing about it is worse than not finding any at all.

June 13, 2018

Ya coulda heard a pin drop

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 3:47 pm

Once upon a time when our politicians did not tend to apologize for our country’s prior actions, here’s a refresher on how some of our former patriots handled negative comments about our great country
These are good

JFK’S
Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60’s when
DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.
DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of
France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded, “Does that include those who are buried here?”

DeGaulle did not respond.
You could have heard a pin drop.

When in England , at a fairly large conference,
Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury
if our plans for Iraq were just an example of
’empire building’ by George Bush.

He answered by saying, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.
The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American.
During a break, one of the French engineers came back into
the room saying, “Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done?
He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.
What does he intend to do, bomb them?”

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly:
“Our carriers have three hospitals on board
that can treat several hundred people;
they are nuclear powered and can supply
emergency electrical power to shore facilities;
they have three cafeterias with
the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day,
they can produce several thousand gallons of
fresh water from sea water each day,
and they carry half a dozen helicopters for
use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck.
We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?”
You could have heard a pin drop.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies
At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.
Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks, but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.
He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?”

Without hesitating the American Admiral replied,
“Maybe it’s because the Brit’s, Canadians, Aussie’s and Americans
arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~

AND
THIS STORY FITS RIGHT IN WITH THE ABOVE..

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.
At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in
his carry on.

“You have been to France before, monsieur?”
the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”

The American said, “The last time I was here,
I didn’t have to show it.”

“Impossible.. Americans always have to show their passports on
arrival in France !”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look.
Then, he quietly explained, ”Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on,
D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchman
to show a passport to.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

June 7, 2018

Elites Value Mellifluous Illegality over Crass Lawfulness, by Dr. Hanson [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 9:05 pm

Elites Value Mellifluous Illegality over Crass Lawfulness
By Victor Davis Hanson

June 5, 2018 6:30 AM

President Obama in the White House press room in 2014; President Trump speaks to reporters in Bedminster, N.J., August 10, 2017. (Larry Downing, Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Obama defies the Constitution but sounds ‘presidential.’ Trump follows it but sounds like a loudmouth from Queens.

Donald Trump blusters nonstop. He offers contrasting messages about whether, on any given day, he might fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. His tweets are certainly not presidential, at least as the adjective is usually understood.

At perpetual campaign rallies, Trump mocks his critics, caricaturing their voices and slamming them with adolescent epithets like “Cryin’ Chuckie Schumer.” He accuses House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of being an enabler of M-13 gang members after she chastised him for calling such psychopaths “animals.” Trump has defined his own uncouthness, which so incenses his opponents, as “the new presidential.”

Yet so far, after over a year of intense investigation, Special Counsel Mueller has found no evidence that Donald Trump — or even his low-level subordinates — had ever colluded with Russian government interests to hijack the 2016 election and defeat Hillary Clinton. Indeed, Mueller has shown himself desperate to indict almost anyone connected with the Trump campaign with almost any charge he can think of — other than colluding with the Russians to warp an election, his original mandate.

Call the Trump paradox “crass lawfulness.” What drives Trump’s critics nearly crazy is not any evidence that Trump has broken federal laws per se. Instead, their rub is that there are somehow no criminal statutes against a president boorishly acting “unpresidential” in his loud quest to supercharge the economy, while undoing the entire agenda of his predecessor, who was so dearly beloved by the media, universities, Hollywood, and identity-politics groups.

Certainly, President Obama’s teleprompted speeches were mellifluous. As some sort of postmodern preacher, Obama often sermonized to Americans about the predetermined “arc of history” that purportedly bent all of us inescapably toward his own just moral version of the universe.

In calm, ministerial tones, the progressive Obama sometimes slapped a puerile America’s wrists, with frequent admonitions to behave and to not act so illiberally. Or he frequently reminded us, with a frown, “that is not who we are.” Recall that Obama came into office promising that he would could lower the seas and cool the planet, with a generation of young like-minded activists who, we were lectured, were the ones we had all been waiting for. Now president emeritus Obama worries that perhaps his messianic appearance came too soon for us to fully appreciate his divinity.

Despite Obama’s recent projection that his eight-year tenure was “scandal-free,” along with the reality that the media’s biased compliance sought to make such a startling fantasy true, the Obama administration was in many respects lawless. It will eventually rank as the most scandal-ridden administration since Warren G. Harding’s.

The Scandals of the ‘Scandal-Free’ Obama Administration

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The Fast and Furious scandal was, among other things, about deliberate government gun-running of weapons to Mexico, perhaps in a warped effort to discredit current U.S. firearms laws. The Benghazi debacle involved a cover-up of a preplanned terrorist hit on our consulate, an attack that was possible only because it was well known that the consulate’s security was lax. The Benghazi cover-up involved U.N. ambassador Susan Rice lying five times on national television in a single day, when she claimed that the terrorist operation was the result of a spontaneous riot over a video. And to justify that reelection-cycle concoction, the video maker, a foreign resident on U.S. soil, was summarily jailed on a trumped-up probation charge.

An IRS regional high official, and Obama partisan, Lois Lerner, weaponized and discredited the IRS, by hounding conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. Lerner staged a self-serving public stunt to leak her misbehavior to friendly ears — she had a reporter ask her a planted question about targeting conservatives. At her later congressional testimony, Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination. She was never charged by the Obama State Department. Indeed, Obama himself, after expressing initial pseudo contriteness in the face of public furor, waited the public out before finally announcing that there was not a “smidgeon” of corruption in the IRS. Lerner, in effect, was rewarded for successfully neutralizing many conservative activist groups just months before the 2012 election. In October 2017, facing a lawsuit by conservative groups, the IRS admitted in court that it had unfairly targeted them during the Obama administration. It agreed to a multi-million-dollar settlement, and the current attorney general, Jeff Sessions, apologized to the more than 450 conservative organizations in question.

Nadine Strossen, a liberal and the former president of the American Civil Liberty Union, conceded — but only in hindsight when both Obama and she were out of their respective offices — that Obama was one of the most hostile presidents to civil liberties in history. Perhaps she was referring to the fact that Eric Holder’s and Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department had spied on Associated Press reporters, monitored the communications of Fox reporter James Rosen, and subpoenaed New York Times reporter James Risen to force him to reveal his confidential sources. Holder was also the first Attorney General in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over subpoenaed documents.

We are slowly appreciating over the last year that lying under oath was an Obama-administration requisite for a high position in the intelligence community.

But it was during the 2016 election cycle that the Obama administration descended to a level of corruption not seen in a century. Right in the middle of the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, Obama, as judge and jury, announced that candidate Clinton had violated no criminal law while secretary of state. Obama also lied when he stated that he’d known nothing about such an unlawful server, although emails prove that he himself had communicated over it on several occasions. His FBI director, James Comey, deliberately scrambled the law and exonerated Hillary Clinton from wrongdoing, not because she had not broken the law, but, according to Comey’s own invented interpretations of the statute, because she had not intended to violate the law. Comey also admitted to tailoring his circus-like investigation of Clinton around the assumption that she would soon be president.

We are slowly appreciating over the last year that lying under oath was an Obama-administration requisite for a high position in the intelligence community. FBI director Comey lied about the particular sequences of his investigation of the Clinton email scandal. He lied by omission to the president when, in his supposed Oval Office informative dissection of the Steele dossier, he failed to include the fact that it was a product of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC.

Comey’s various testimonies often cannot be reconciled with those of his deputy FBI director, Andrew McCabe, who was cited by the inspector general for lying. Comey warped a FISA-court request to spy on U.S. citizens, by deliberately withholding information from the court about the Steele dossier. Comey also has not been forthcoming about the insertion of an FBI informant into the 2016 Trump campaign. Comey has often lectured about the illegality and impropriety of leaking confidential government documents, though he later bragged about his own successful leak of such documents as a successful means of getting Special Counsel Robert Mueller appointed.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan may prove to be the two most prevaricating officials in the history of any modern administration. Both have lied repeatedly while under oath to Congress, respectively, about their agencies’ surveillance of American citizens, spying on Senate staffers, the U.S. drone program, and leaking the notorious Steele dossier. In their particular cases, as current media analysts, they have become completely unhinged over the reality that a crude Donald Trump was never so crude as either of them in their attempt to undermine the constitutional principle of telling the truth to Congress while under oath.

Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and others sought transcripts of surveilled U.S. citizens in order to unmask their names, which were then subsequently leaked to the media. Rice initially lied about her role in the unmaskings. Power’s testimony that she had no idea how her name found its way onto the unmasking requests — more than 250 of them — is as surreal as it is mendacious. In 2016 alone, Power sought one unmasking on average every working day, despite the fact that the U.N. ambassador is not an intelligence official.

In addition to such unethical and often illegal behavior, the Obama administration institutionalized deception as a tool of government: hiding from the American people all the side agreements to the so-called Iran deal, itself a blatant effort to bypass the treaty-making responsibilities of the U.S. Senate; fabricating yarns to sell the disastrous Obamacare takeover of health care; using executive orders to enact immigration amnesties after warning that doing just that would be unconstitutional; lying repeatedly about the circumstances of the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap.

Hillary Clinton has never been able to explain why huge gifts to her family’s foundation from Russian interests coincided with the State Department’s approval of uranium sales to Russia, or why anyone would ever pay her husband $500,000 for a short speech in Moscow — and certainly would not now once her political ambitions have at last calcified.

We live in such strange times that the media ignored the most blatant examples of presidential campaign-cycle collusion in memory, while seeking to invent it where it never existed. Remember, Barack Obama on a hot mic not only got caught reiterating to a Russian leader the conditions of Putin-Obama election-cycle collusion, but he also spelled out the exact quid pro quo: promised Russian quietude abroad during Obama’s reelection campaign was in exchange for “flexibility” (i.e., cancellation) of U.S.-Eastern European missile-defense projects. Should Trump ever be caught making the same “deal” in 2020, he would probably be impeached.

Criminal Camelot vs. Crude Queens

Why was the Obama administration so corrupt?

Three reasons stand out. One, it was the first administration in modern history in which the media saw its role as a subordinate and accomplice rather than an auditor; the media thereby empowered corruption. Two, it exuded a moral zealousness in its promise to fundamentally transform the country and enact social justice; any means of doing so were justified by its exalted ends. Three, like the John F. Kennedy administration, Obama and his team adroitly calculated that in America’s celebrity culture, what’s hip and cool is often more highly prized than what’s competent and lawful, much less crude and effective.

No one would suggest that Donald Trump obeys the law because he has an inherent respect for the Constitution and the nation’s ethical bearings, although that perhaps could prove to be so. Rather, Trump has not broken the law the way that Obama routinely did quite simply because he cannot. The media is so hostile to his every act, the popular culture has so frequently written him off as crude, and his critics, both progressive and conservative, have become so hysterical over his person, that he lives in a singular 24/7 bubble that faults him for everything from his choice of dessert to the manner in which his daughter holds her child.

Our media and popular culture, as well as our cultural elite, value style far more than substance.

The news, both fake and real, is now all Trump, all the time. And because Trump can enjoy baiting his opponents by deliberately being uncouth and coarse, and since he has little respect for past presidential protocol, almost everything is now transparent and nothing is off-limits. Trump haters of the deep state leak. But then again, so do Trump adherents. Many of his cabinet meetings are televised, sometimes painfully. Trump can say anything to anyone anywhere at any time — on Twitter, television, or radio.

Finally, this weird juxtaposition of the vacuous and often law-breaking, but melodious, Obama administration next to boisterous and rowdy Trump presidency has taught us a lesson about our own moral blindness.

Credentials empower illegality; their mere absence is seen as almost illegal in itself.

Both our media and popular culture, as well as our cultural elite, value style far more than substance. Adroitly breaking the law is preferable to obeying it in uncivilized fashion. Boorishly bragging nonstop about 3 percent economic growth and below-4-percent unemployment is deemed far worse than contextualizing in professorial tones a stagnant economy that in eight years never achieved 3 percent annual growth.

Credentials empower illegality; their mere absence is seen as almost illegal in itself.

Lawlessly “presidential” is a misdemeanor; lawfully unpresidential, a felony. A bankrupt agenda delivered by experts is sanctified; an effective one packaged by amateurs is heretical.

Having engaged in illegality during the Obama administration is better on a résumé than following the law in a Trump government.
Comments

And yet still, this one constant keeps reverberating throughout the hysteria: Our elite always values the messenger over the message.

The façade of Camelot exempts empty lawlessness in a way that Queens-accented boosterism seems to nullify real achievement.

Ten Paradoxes Of Our Age, by Dr. Hanson, [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 8:41 pm

Ten Paradoxes Of Our Age
by Victor Davis Hanson
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The 21st century is reminding of us of some uncomfortable truths. Abroad, recent controversies over the rise of Chinese mercantilism, the specter of Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons, tensions in the European Union, the calcified Palestinian question, mass migrations, and the resurgence of Islamic terrorism all offer a number of lessons. At home, just as instructive is the strange juxtaposition between Obama’s suave progressivism and Trump’s coarse conservatism. Here are 10 takeaways from our current controversies.

The prosperity of consumer capitalism does not necessarily lead to constitutional government. China’s haphazard embrace of quasi-market capitalism simply made Beijing richer, more regionally aggressive, and more internally authoritarian once the state allowed its elite and those who were well connected to make all the money they wanted. In the long term, more economic growth may enhance greater personal freedom, but there likely must be preexisting conditions or ongoing political reforms to benefit from economic liberalization.
Once a nuclear power doesn’t mean always a nuclear power. Both South Africa and Ukraine likely possessed nuclear weapons and, after cost-benefit analyses, gave them up or at least cancelled their proliferation efforts. North Korea may well be reduced to the stone age by international boycotts and embargoes, but it will likely eventually give up its nuclear ballistic missiles. Most anti-Western nuclear and wannabe nuclear regimes require patrons that can be leveraged, or have economies that are vulnerable, or need money to keep volatile populations quiet. What was lacking in the past was not the ability, but the Western will, to stop a North Korea from gaining nuclear ballistic missiles. The same calculus is true of the nuclear aspirations of Iran. It, too, blusters and threatens–not from a position of strength, but from the fear that it is economically vulnerable; that its proliferation patrons Russia, China, or North Korea can be coerced into not extending technological aid; and that it is plagued by a restive population. Both Iran and North Korea have no desire to see pro-Western Egypt, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Taiwan go nuclear to achieve regional deterrence.
The European Union has realized that its efforts to transform a successful common market and effective free trade and travel zone into a continental pan-European national state are in crisis. Brexit, north-south financial tensions, east-west schisms over illegal immigration, and fears of a resurgently aggressive Germany are tearing the EU apart. The EU super-state may well prove no more successful than Napoleon’s effort at a continental system. Such a utopian quest always demanded a level of coercion contrary to national sovereignty and democratic government, a level of censorship antithetical to Western free expression, and a group of pragmatic social engineers akin to those who formed the European Common Market rather than the contemporary cadre of impractical but haughty bureaucrats and careerists in Brussels.
The more non-Westerners abandon their homelands and flee to the West—especially en masse and illegally—the more these immigrants ironically seek to replicate in their new country the very cultural conditions they forsook. All immigrants from time immemorial are naturally schizophrenic about their homelands—they romanticize their country of origin in the abstract, while experiencing relief that their new home is not like the old one they abandoned. But Europe is especially inept at assimilation, integration, and intermarriage, while Middle Eastern immigrants are particularly reluctant to embrace the Western secularism and personal freedom to which they flock. The result can become a toxic brew.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Germany’s neighbors feared its power, expansionism, and unification schemes, as well as its tendency to become petulant in its victimhood. Such anxieties are now being once more expressed by Germany’s friends and allies. Central and Eastern Europeans oppose its policy of open borders and its nonchalance about illegal immigration. Germany’s immediate neighbors are confused over its mandatory green energy initiatives, while its policy of forcing mandatory austerity on indebted Mediterranean European nations is splitting apart the European Union. The Germany of 2018 is not that of 1946 or even that of 1989, but it often polls as the most anti-American nation in Europe.
The Middle East is not the center of the geostrategic universe. Another Arab embargo would be absurd. The real crisis is not the tension between Israel and the Arab nations, but rather it is Israel and its Arab neighbors’ fears of an ascendant Persian Shiite Islam. The United States is no longer much leveraged by Middle East oil considerations. The Palestinians have seemingly overplayed their victim, terrorist, and intifada hands. Slowly, the West is coalescing to the view that it is past time for the Palestinians to build a prosperous nation-state on the West Bank. If Palestinians are still considered refugees from the late 1940s, then so too are contemporary Sudetenlanders, East Prussians, Russian Cossacks, Volga Germans, Southeast Asians, Hungarians, and Jews of the wider Middle East.
The great immediate dangers to Western Civilization are not hunger, global warming, inequality, or religious fundamentalism, but obesity, consumer culture, utopian pacifism, multiculturalism, declining demography, the secular religion of political correctness that threatens the right to free speech, an inability to protect national borders and to create a common culture rooted in the values of the West, and an absence of belief in spiritual transcendence and reverence for past customs and traditions. The challenge is not just that Australians, Canadians, Europeans, and Americans increasingly cannot articulate the values that explain why throngs of immigrants migrate to their shores, but that even if they could, they feel that they probably should not.
The great dangers to modern constitutional government and a free press come not from silly and easily identifiable right-wing racists and bumbling fascists, but rather, as George Orwell saw, from glib social utopians. Similarly dangerous are their compliant media enhancers who insidiously tolerate the abuses of the administrative state, in the exalted quest for equality, justice, and fairness. Those responsible for eroding our freedoms will not likely be jowled generals in shades and epaulettes, but the lean and cool in hip suits who speak mellifluously of a predetermined arc of history bending toward their utopian mandate. Nothing is more dangerous to democratic government than a media that believes it is an agent for social justice, voluntarily surrenders its autonomy, and sees the loss of its independence as a small price to pay for the adulation it receives from the state.
The goal of government in a Western constitutional state should be conceived of in terms of economic growth, such as by achieving an annual GDP rate of 3 percent or greater, an unemployment rate of 4 percent or lower, and a rising middle-class per capita income—not an increase in state subsidies, state bureaucracies, and state regulations. Those in the state who exude empathy often cannot deliver it; those in the private sector who rarely mention compassion, often deliver it. A good job, not state sustenance, is the fountainhead of a good life.
Crudity in popular politics, as now witnessed in Europe and the United States, is never to be welcomed. But if transient coarseness is sometimes the price of dissolving calcified and destructive norms, and is constitutional, then it is an acceptable antidote to suave institutionalized mediocrity. Proving that black lives do indeed matter is sometimes best achieved by ensuring the African-American unemployment rate is below 6 percent, and that traditionally neglected job-seekers gain leverage over employers. An economy growing at over 3 percent per annum usually renders arguments over minimum wage laws irrelevant—employers gladly increase wages when they are desperate for new workers though they are reluctant to do so when ordered by the state and are in not much need of new laborers.

The Western world is in turmoil largely because of the widening gap between what the people see as true and the “truth” that their governing classes impose on them for the purported greater moral good. The result is a schizophrenia like that seen before the collapse of the Soviet Empire, in which no one believed that the reality they lived had anything to do with the reality delivered by the media and the state. Trumpism and popular movements in Europe are simply symptoms of another problem—that what the ruling elite said was true was often a lie.

June 4, 2018

A request from Kay [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 9:35 pm

You don’t have to be religious in any way to read this !!! It’s about reality in our country today.

Republican or Democrat, this is what has happened.

With Trump as President, we might be able to get this passed. Let’s send it across the country.

Will I Get Three Replies?

I’m sending this to a variety of friends & family to see what kind of opinions this might bring forth.

SOME STATES (Maryland, Michigan & Arizona) ARE INEXPLICABLY ALLOWING MUSLIM STUDENTS TO PRAY DURING SCHOOL HOURS!!!!

IF THAT’S OKAY, THEN WE MUST DEMAND THAT OUR FLAGS BE RETURNED TO OUR CLASSROOMS AND ALLOW OTHERS TO PRAY AS WELL! IT’S PAST TIME FOR THE CHRISTIANS TO BOLDLY SPEAK UP & DEMAND THEIR RIGHTS.

When we get 100,000,000, that’s one hundred million, willing Christians to BOND together, voice their concerns and vote, we can take back America with God’s help.

Become one of the proud One hundred million Then let’s get 200 million. It can be done just by sending this email to your friends.

Do the math. It only takes a single willing heart and a fed-up SOUL. God Bless America and Shine your light on Her!

In 1952 President Truman established one day a year as a “National Day of Prayer.

In 1988 President Reagan designated the first Thursday in May of each year as The National Day of Prayer.

In June 2007, then Presidential Candidate Barack Obama blatantly declared that the USA “Was no longer a Christian nation!

In May 2009 President Obama dismissed our 21st annual National Day of Prayer ceremony at the White House under the ruse of “not wanting to offend anyone”

Sept. 25, 2009, a Muslim Prayer Day was held on the West front of the U.S. Capitol Building, the site where U.S. Presidents have been inaugurated since 1981.. There were over 50,000 Muslims in D.C. that day President Obama dismissed our National Day of Prayer and now it’s okay for an event at our capitol for Islamists? I for one was offended. But wait, it didn’t stop!!!

February 17-19, 2015, a Muslim prayer was recited at the start of the second day of the White House summit on “Countering Violent Extremism,” but, oddly, no other religious text was presented during the portion of the event that was open to the press. Imam Sheikh Sa’ad Musse Roble, president of the World Peace Organization in Minneapolis, MN, recited a “verse from the Quran” following remarks by Obama administration officials and Democrat members of Congress.

Former President Obama boldly encouraged schools to teach the Quran for extra credit, while at the same time, we’re forbidden even talk about the Bible, God, pray, or salute the American Flag.

The direction this country was headed should strike fear in the heart of every Christian.

How refreshing and beautiful our wonderful First Lady Melania Trump was in Melbourne, Florida on February 18, 2017. Instead of the normal “pumping up” of the crowd, Melania chose to initiate the rally with the Lord’s Prayer. It sounded more like the start of a football game after the National Anthem rather than what we would expect to hear after a prayer.

Make a “joyful noise unto the LORD thy GOD!” The “sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” of Madeline Murray O’Hair and ACLU efforts in 1962, “School Prayer was removed from the U.S. public education system by slowly and insidiously corrupting the meaning of the First Amendment through a number of court cases over several court cases should be confronted and reversed.

Send this to ten thinking folk, or even one hundred and ten, and send it to the person who sent it to you! To let them know that, indeed, it was sent out to many more.

Commentary re Chinese Navy’s development of a Blue Water Navy, by Capt John & Adm Lyons [nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 6:10 pm

The Chinese Navy’s Development During 8 Years Of Obama’s Sequestration of the US Navy

By Capt Joseph R. John, June 4, 2018: Op Ed # 390

The below listed Op Ed, by Admiral James A Lyons, Jr. USNA ’52. USN (Ret), discusses how the US Navy could counter China’s blue water navy, and oppose China’s plan to control the South China Sea. Over the last 10 years, China has developed an technically advanced blue water Navy whose goal is to be able to defeat the US Navy with conventional weapons; its rapid technology advances and ship building programs have been fueled by China’s theft of advanced weapons systems and ship designs from US corporations and the US Navy. China’s long range goal is to become the dominate global naval power in the next decade.

China’s plan is to expand its fleet to 351 ships, while the US Navy’s goal is to expand its fleet to 355 ships; Pentagon planners should not be planning parity with China, they should take a page out of President Reagan’s playbook, and develop a larger and more advanced US Navy than China’s Navy. In addition to the Navy’s ship long range building program, in addition it should modernize and recommission a certain number of ships in its reserve fleet.

Over the last 8 years, with no opposition from the Obama administration, China has created 4 artificial manmade island bases on rocky shoals, throughout the South China Sea. China has developed and is implementing a strategic zone offensive plan for the South China Sea, and will most probably create other artificial manmade island bases on rocky shoals. Those island bases can’t be properly defended from a coordinated strike on all four bases, at the same time, by high flying stealth bombers, and submarine launched cruise missiles. There should never be a need for the US Marine Corps to execute four amphibious assaults to take control of those manmade island bases.

When China has 351 ships operating within the restricted area of the South China Sea, the US Navy will still be required to operate half of its fleet, or about 180 ships, in the vast Pacific and the Persian Gulf operating areas. China will therefore have a numerically superior naval fleet operating in the South China Sea. To ensure “Freedom Of The Seas”, the US Navy will be required to coordinate joint naval operations with the Navies of governments who must ensure free and open commercial transit thru the South China Sea (Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam).

China’s newest destroyer, in reality a light cruiser; has shifted the balance of naval power in the Pacific to China’s advantage, that new advanced destroyer has over the horizon supersonic cruise missile technology; a missile fired from that destroyer will only provide a US Navy ship, a response time of from 15 to 30 seconds to counter the over the horizon supersonic cruise missile fired at it. The US Navy will not have the technology to counter China’s over the horizon supersonic cruise missile threat until about 2025. China’s newest naval ships are on a technological par with US Navy ships, excluding the superior technology of the US Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers, to China’s one aircraft carrier.

More worrisome than the development of the Chinese Navy’s technically advanced fleet, is the military discipline exhibited by the officers and crews aboard Chinese Naval ships. In the last 10 years, the Chinese Navy has done an excellent job of training it’s, all male, fully manned, shipboard crews, into a heightened state of readiness and military discipline. Compare that to how, Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity has changed the character, make up, manning, readiness, and military discipline of shipboard crews in US Navy ships. For 10 years, the US Navy has covered up serious shipboard manning and readiness problems. The shipboard manning problems occurs just prior to 6 month deployments of US Navy ships. Deploying Navy ships have experienced many married and single female crewmembers, requesting transfer to shore duty, just prior to deployment, because of their recent pregnancies.

The makeup, and manning, and readiness of crews aboard US Navy ships often required to deploy in reduced states of readiness. The reduced manning results in fewer watch standing sections, less time for training, lack of military discipline, fatigue for being overworked, and a reduced state of readiness. Those problems have been exposed by collision reports explaining what led up to US Navy ship’s collisions at sea and groundings. Those collision reports also exposed the inadequate navigational procedures being followed by bridge and CIC watch standers, and the inability of the command to properly train watch standers because of excessive fatigue, which contributed to collisions and groundings.

Some of the examples of collisions at sea are as follows. On August 21, 2017: ten sailors were killed when the USS John McCain (DDG-56), a guided missile destroyer, collided 50 miles east of Singapore with the ALNIC MC, a 600-foot oil and chemical tanker. On June 17, 2017: seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), a guided missile destroyer, was broadsided off the coast of Singapore, by MV CRYSTAL, a Philippines-registered cargo ship. On May 9, 2017: a 70 foot South Korean fishing boat collided on the port side of the USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), a guided missile cruiser, while the cruiser was conducting routine operations in international waters. On Aug. 19, 2016: the USS Louisiana (SSBN-743), a ballistic missile submarine, and the USNS Eagleview (T-AGSE-3), a Military Sealift Command support vessel, collided off the Coast of Washington State, while conducting routine operations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

In the last 5 years, 90 Commanding Officers of US Navy ships have been relieved of command, because of collisions at sea, ships going aground, aqs a result of inappropriate sexual relations with a crew member (by both male and female commanding officers), and for other reasons brought about by complaints filed by crew members against Commanding Officers on the IG Hotline (posters on Navy bases outline the 4-step Hotline complaint procedure required to turn in senior officers). In light of the fact that so many Commanding Officers are being continually relieved, Obama’s politically correct selection criteria for the selection of new female and male Commanding Officers, should be re-evaluated.

For 8 years, Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity has negatively affected the character, make up, military discipline, unit cohesiveness, training, unit moral, and “Combat Effectiveness” of members of the US Armed Forces. The Cadets and Midshipmen matriculating at the five service academies have been indoctrinated in politically correct leadership techniques, and their “Honor Codes” been negatively affected by the Social Experiment On Diversity—Honor Code violators are now being put thru retraining programs (sometimes as many as three times), violators are no longer being dismissed.

Lt David Nartker, the US Naval Academy Class of 2011, surrendered his two heavily armed 49 foot riverine command patrol boats with 10 sailors in the Persian Gulf, to a single smaller and less armed Iranian speed boat “without a fight.” Naval Academy Alumni still wonder how the Social Experiment On Diversity, affected Lt Nartker view of John Paul Jones’s doctrine of “Don’t Give Up the Ship”, and would like to know how Lt Nartker training permitted him to beg for forgiveness from his Iranian captors who forced him and his crew down to their knees.

The leadership being provided in the US Navy by some of Obama’s politically correct, pre-screened Flag selectees, continue to drive Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity into the training of the fleet and at the US Naval Academy to this day. Witness the celebration of Gay Pride Month at the Pentagon and on US Naval Bases, despite the fact that “military regulation” specifically prohibits promoting any political agendas on US Military installations.

The military discipline exhibited by the officers and the all-male crews aboard Chinese Navy ships, with their heightened state of readiness, because they are not being hamstrung by Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity. Obama’s Social Experiment On Diversity continues to negatively affect the character, make up, military discipline, unit cohesiveness, training, unit moral, and “Combat Effectiveness” of the US Navy. Admiral James Lyon’s below listed Op Ed discusses China’s Blue Water Navy.

Copyright by Capt Joseph R. John. All Rights Reserved. The material can only posted on another Web site or distributed on the Internet by giving full credit to the author. It may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without the permission from the author.

Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62

Capt USNR(Ret)/Former FBI

Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC

2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-184

San Diego, CA 92108

http://www.CombatVeteransForCongress.org

https://www.facebook.com/combatveteransforcongress?ref=hl

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
-Isaiah 6:8

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China’s aggressive, bullying tactics in the South China Sea

Admiral James A Lyons, Jr. USNA ’52. USN (Ret) former Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet

May 31, 2018

Countering China’s Blue Water Navy

Based on China’s massive military expansion over the last two decades, particularly the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Navy, their goal is clearly to challenge the U.S. Navy’s dominance, not only in the Western Pacific, but globally. In a recent hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on 17 May 2018, that was clearly pointed out by two experts on the Chinese threat, Rick Fisher and Captain James Fanell, USN (ret). They explained how the Chinese Navy dramatically expanded from a coastal force to a global threat, capable of challenging the U.S. Navy’s dominant position in the Western Pacific today, and globally in the next decade.

China’s aggressive, bullying tactics in the South China Sea

This new reality is particularly challenging, with the serious decline in our overall military capability and readiness, as a result of the Obama administration’s disastrous sequestration mandate. As a result we now have the smallest Navy since prior to World War I. Nowhere is the Chinese challenge more serious than in the Western Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea. Hegemony over the South China Sea is essential for China to achieve its goal of conquering the free and democratic island of Taiwan. However, the South China Sea is an international strategic waterway through which over $5 trillion worth of commerce transits on an annual basis. The South China Sea remaining free from the threats of China’s Communist regime is critical for not only world commerce but also for our allies Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and certainly Taiwan.

China has continued its aggressive and bullying tactics by creating several artificial islands on contested rocks and shoals in the South China Sea. They have built an air and naval base on Woody Island in the Paracel Group, and also have built new large naval, air, and missile bases on Fiery Cross Reef, Subic Reef, and Mischief Reef. There are now three completed runways of approximately 10,000 feet that can accommodate about 24 aircrafts each. As Rick Fisher pointed out to the Committee, reports in May 2018 indicate that China has now deployed 400-Km range YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missiles as well as 200-Km range HQ-9B fourth generation surface-to-air missile (SAMs), which would allow the PLA to deny access to most military aircraft as well as commercial airlines and shipping traffic. These man-made islands, in effect, are stationary aircraft carriers. The good news is that since they can’t move, they are vulnerable.

The islands were militarized in spite of a declaration by China’s President Xi Jinping on 25 September 2015, at the White House, saying that that he would not militarize these islands. The double talking should not come as a surprise. As a result, China has been uninvited to participate in this year’s bi-annual RIMPAC multinational naval exercise in the Pacific. They never should have been invited in the first place as it was a form of “appeasement!”

As Fisher pointed out, having built this series of extended bases in the Spratly Island region with no serious opposition, China can plan much greater island-building efforts for the future. Make no mistake, China’s goal is to exercise hegemony over the First Island chain, which includes Taiwan, and eventually, out to the Second Island chain which includes Guam, our key Western Pacific base. Should China be successful in defeating Taiwan, it would be a great strategic win as it would provide greater access for China’s nuclear ballistic submarine fleet to the Pacific open waters.

China’s “Belt and Road” initiative in the Indian Ocean

Likewise, China’s “Belt and Road” initiative in the Indian Ocean, under the guise of developing commercial ports, is providing cover for the development and use of facilities by the Chinese Navy in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. China has also reached into Latin America by attempting to reignite the Falklands War. Fortunately, with a change in the Argentine government that initiative has failed.

The Trump administration’s task, in confronting the Chinese totalitarian threat, is similar to what President Reagan faced in confronting an aggressive Soviet Union in 1981. President Trump has taken a page out of the Reagan playbook by embarking on an aggressive Navy ship building program, but regretfully it is only planned to build the Navy back to 355 ships. To meet our worldwide commitments and raise the deterrence equation, the Navy needs 400 ships. With our reduced domestic shipbuilding capacity it would take more than two decades to achieve that goal. Regretfully, time is not on our side. China will be ready to move more aggressively by 2025. Therefore, to achieve the desired number of ships, we need to think outside the box. We should consider contracting with our allies for constructing ship hulls or more complete frigate-size ships. We also need to reactivate ships from the Navy’s Reserve Fleet and update them with modern equipment. It’s called the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program.

We also need new strategic thinking with our allies in the Western Pacific to counter the rising Chinese threat. The Trump administration has made a move in that direction by calling for Australia, Japan, India, and the U.S. to form a “Quad.” This is a step in the right direction, but it needs to be expanded into a Pacific-type NATO organization which should include all our allies including India. Taiwan should initially be made an associate member. In that regard, Taiwan needs to be equipped with sufficient defense equipment by no later than 2020 to provide a capability to prevent any successful invasion by China. A preplanning staff needs to be established on Guam as soon as possible with all member countries participating. We must quickly raise the deterrence equation by not only increasing our force levels, but also by developing aggressive exercises in contested areas. Time is of the essence.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

June 2, 2018

Hillary’s still trying to figure out how she lost the election, thanks to Kay

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 8:47 pm

Hillary – I’m Still Trying To Figure Out How I Lost The Election

cid:FgUiDW5TREDfb4Ucw8Uy

Was it the Russian Uranium Deal?
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Was it Wikileaks?
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Was it Podesta?
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Was it Comey?
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Was it having a sexual predator as a husband?
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Was it Huma Abedin’s sexual predator husband Anthony Weiner?
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Was it because the Clinton Foundation ripped off Haiti?
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Was it subpoena violations?

Was it the congressional testimony lies?
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Was it the corrupt Clinton Foundation?
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Was it the Benghazi fiasco?
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Was it pay for play?
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Was it being recorded laughing because she got a child rapist off when she was an attorney?cid:dfn2SdqEVpZGGa2SA6aD

Was it the Travel Gate scandal?

Was it the Whitewater scandal?

Was it the Cattle Gate scandal?

Was it the Trooper-Gate scandal?

OR….

Was it the $15 million for Chelsea’s apartment bought with foundation money?cid:TZacG5DzKDAHyWVoe6EJ

Or her husband’s interference with Loretta Lynch & the investigation?

Or happily accepting the stolen debate questions given to her?
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Or her own secret server in her house and disdain for classified information?cid:2jpcqqz6XdO8834RO4qJ

Or deleting 30,000 emails?
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Or having cell phones destroyed with hammers?

Was it the Seth Rich murder?
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Was it the Vince Foster murder?
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Was it the Gennifer Flowers assault & settlement?

Was it the $800,000 Paula Jones settlement?

Was it calling half the United States deplorable?

Was it the underhanded treatment of Bernie Sanders?
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Was it Bill’s impeachment?
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Was it the lie about being under sniper fire in Bosnia?
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Was it the $10 million she got for the pardon of Marc Rich?

Or the $6 BILLION she “lost” when in charge of the State Dept.?

Or because she is a hateful, lying, power-hungry, overly ambitious, greedy, nasty person?cid:4hMN9hcTxRPkz0hDHVH4

Gee I just can’t seem to put my finger on it…

May 30, 2018

39 Second Read, from John

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 9:43 pm

In their infinite wisdom, the United States’ Founders created the Electoral College to ensure the STATES were fairly represented. Why should one or two densely populated areas speak for the whole of the nation?

The following list of statistics has been making the rounds on the Internet. It should finally put an end to the argument as to why the Electoral College makes sense.

Do share this. It needs to be widely known and understood.

There are 3,141 counties in the United States.

Trump won 3,084 of them.

Clinton won 57.

There are 62 counties in New York State.

Trump won 46 of them.

Clinton won 16.

Clinton won the popular vote by approx. 1.5 million votes.

In the 5 counties that encompass NYC, (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond & Queens) Clinton received well over 2 million more votes than Trump. (Clinton only won 4 of these counties; Trump won Richmond)

Therefore these 5 counties alone, more than accounted for Clinton winning the popular vote of the entire country.

These 5 counties comprise 319 square miles.

The United States is comprised of 3,797,000 square miles.

When you have a country that encompasses almost 4 million square miles of territory, it would be ludicrous to even suggest that the vote of those who inhabit a mere 319 square miles should dictate the outcome of a national election.

Large, densely populated Democrat cities (NYC, Chicago, LA, etc.) DO NOT and SHOULD NOT speak for the rest of our country!

And…it’s been verified and documented that those aforementioned 319 square miles are where the majority of our nation’s problems foment.

Well worth the 39 seconds to read? Now please pass it!

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