PowerLine -> Put up or shut up on the Trump threatens democracy claim – At the Gaza border

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PowerLine -> Put up or shut up on the Trump threatens democracy claim – At the Gaza border


Daily Digest

  • The Power Line Show, Ep. 70: The “Flight 93 Election” Comes in for a Landing
  • Put up or shut up on the Trump threatens democracy claim
  • NBC News swings, hits self
  • At the Gaza border
  • Civil War on the Left, Part 59: Minnesota Not-So-Nice
The Power Line Show, Ep. 70: The “Flight 93 Election” Comes in for a Landing

Posted: 14 May 2018 12:03 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)Last Thursday and Friday John and I participated in the Ricochet Podcast Summit at AEI in Washington DC, and on Friday morning we taped episode 7o of the Power Line Show with Michael Anton, the former spokesman for Trump’s National Security Council and author of the controversial “Flight 93 Election” article from September 2016. Anton revisited the infamous article, shared his insights about Trump’s political character, and also regaled the live audience with a great tale of what it’s like to be a chef for a White House state dinner. Here we are in action:

As usual, you can listen or download from the link below, or from our hosts at Ricochet (which you should join right after you become a Power Line VIP member). As always, best of all is to subscribe to Power Line in iTunes (and please leave a 5-star review —we need more reviews!).



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Put up or shut up on the Trump threatens democracy claim

Posted: 14 May 2018 09:19 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)Some on the left and in media are beginning to acknowledge the excesses of the anti-Trump resistance. For example, Evan Mandery of Politico discussed the shunning of Alan Dershowitz for the sin of raising civil libertarian concerns about some of Robert Mueller’s conduct. And Jack Goldstein acknowledged and worried about the “deep state’s” assault on President Trump.

In both cases, though, there was a caveat. Mandery expressed it in remarkable prose:

[P]erhaps the democratic project is under existential threat—and history, if it survives as an independent academic enterprise, will look back pityingly upon civil libertarians who coddled power with their concerns about prosecutorial overreach while a fundamentally corrupt president undermined the great American project.

Stated less floridly, Trump may be such a threat to democracy that almost anything goes when it comes to resisting. Anyone who defends the president on any front deserves the abuse he receives.

Die hard anti-Trumpers aren’t the only ones who thought they detected an authoritarian bent to Donald Trump. I did too. And it is never wrong to worry that a president might veer in an authoritarian direction.

But we are now more than 15 months into Trump’s presidency. It’s fair, at this point, to ask for evidence that Trump threatens, existentially or otherwise, the democratic project. It’s also fair to ask for evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia — the alleged phenomenon that Goldsmith cited as possibly justifying the “deep state’s” assault.

Where is threat to free expression? Whose speech has been shut down? Which news outlet has been curbed?

Please don’t cite Trump’s barbs about “fake news,” etc. As David Azerrad says, the First Amendment does not protect the media from harsh criticism. All citizens, including those serving in government, are permitted to chastise it. This is not the exclusive prerogative of The New York Times’ ombudsman.

Where is the threat to the rule of law. Show me that court order Trump has violated or ignored. Show me the law he has violated or refused to enforce.

The travel ban was the basis for some of the early hysteria about Trump. But the administration twice revised that order in an attempt to conform with court rulings it didn’t agree with.

Where is the assault on minority rights? At the fringes of civil rights laws, the administration has pulled back, or tried to, from some of the aggressive positions taken by Team Obama. But in doing so — e.g., when it comes who uses which restrooms and who must bake wedding cakes for whom — it argues in favor of the understanding of civil rights and constitutional law that prevailed for decades.

Our democratic project is not threatened if our civil rights laws are interpreted as they were before Barack Obama became president. Nor is threatened by enforcing immigration laws or supporting legislation that would bring immigration levels more in line with historical norms.

Finally, where is the evidence of Russian influence on Trump? Identify the Russian agents who have served in the administration. Show me the policy decisions Trump has made that favor Russia.

The fact is that on nearly all big ticket foreign policy issues — Iran, Syria, Ukraine, you name it — Trump’s decisions have gone against Russia’s interest. And let’s not forget about the expulsion of all those Russian diplomats. No wonder some, including Trumpf and Putin, say that US–Russia relations are more acrimonious than at any time since the end of the Cold War.

The anti-Trumpers need to move beyond the “Trump as authoritarian tool of Russia” narrative. Few are still buying it.

But if the left does move on, what remains that might justify “resistance.” As of now, only nasty tweets and conservative policies.

The left would be more than happy to maintain its campaign of hyper-resistance based solely on Trump’s conservatism. That’s what its resistance was always really about, anyway.

But can the left sustain and sell the kind of carrying on we’ve been witnessing with only that and some rude tweets? Even with the mainstream media in overdrive, I’m not convinced it can.


NBC News swings, hits self

Posted: 14 May 2018 07:18 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)What is it with NBC News? If you thought they’d hit rock bottom, you may have to revisit the question with a look at national reporter Heidi Przybyla’s piece on the Gatestone Institute last month: “John Bolton presided over anti-Muslim think tank.”

This is an old-fashioned hit piece. The headline reveals the true object of the hit. John Bolton drives the left absolutely nuts. He has their number and he can call them out with great skill. This they cannot abide. Bolton was the target of Pryzbyla’s piece; Gatestone was just the club that she took to hand.

Nina Rosenwald is the founder and president of Gatestone. At the invitation of Lawrence Kadish, John and I spoke to a group including Nina in New York in 2005. She is a formidable force in her own right and one of the nicest people with whom I have had the good fortune to cross paths as a result of my work for Power Line. Meeting her was a great kick.

Since its founding, Nina has made Gatestone a go-to source of news and analysis from reporters and knowledgeable observers such as Khaled Abu Toameh, Bruce Bawer, Soeren Kern, Douglas Murray, Richard Kemp, Guy Milliere, Alan Dershowitz, and many others. We feature their work almost every day in our Picks here. It is great stuff.

Today, to take just one example, Gatestone has posted Richard Kemp’s “Smoke & mirrors: Six weeks of violence on the Gaza border.” It is more informative than the sum total of everything else NBC News has on offer today.

The Gatestone Institute responds to Przybyla’s hit in “NBC News defames Gatestone Institute.” Here are the bullet points of Gatestone’s response to Przybyla:

• Gatestone Institute, far from being “anti-Muslim,” is pro-Muslim. Gatestone does not want to see Muslims deprived of freedom of speech, flogged or stoned to death for supposed adultery. Gatestone is also opposed to “honor” killings, children forced into marriages, homosexuals flogged or killed, and so on. Is one to assume that NBC and its followers do want to see these abuses? Good to know.

• Gatestone is, however, openly committed to educating the public about an aspect of Islam, namely Sharia law, which, according to the European Court of Human Rights and others, is incompatible with liberal democracy.

• NBC states that Russian trolls tweeted a total of four Gatestone articles — out of more than 200,000 tweets identified by Twitter as being linked to Russian accounts. By way of comparison, the database shows that Russian trolls tweeted seven articles from Heidi Przybyla, the author of the NBC report.

• A search of articles on Sputnik, the Russian government-controlled news agency, turns up 1,650 pages of NBC citations. “If getting retweeted 4 times makes you a Russian spy, NBC must be the Kremlin.” — Daniel Greenfield, journalist.

• The crimes are being played down by German authorities, apparently to avoid fueling anti-immigration sentiments. The director of the Criminal Police Association (Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter, BDK), André Schulz, estimates that up to 90% of the sex crimes committed in Germany do not appear in the official statistics.

• NBC’s claims are based on truths, half-truths and untruths all woven together and framed in way not only to misrepresent Gatestone’s work, but also to destroy its reputation and that of others.

Przybyla’s hit piece can serve as the very model of a smear job. If you seek to learn how to do it, study Pryzbyla’s piece. It’s in the nature of these things that few far fewer readers will see Gatestone’s response than saw the hit piece. That’s part of the art of hit. Please pass on Gatestone’s response to friends who might find it of interest.


At the Gaza border

Posted: 14 May 2018 05:18 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)Within the hour we will move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. It’s a big day for Israel and the United States. Hamas wants it known that its followers are unhappy about it. Hamas terrorists are staging assaults on Israel today in response. They would like to kill the Jews across the border, but they will be almost as happy to get their own civilians killed. It’s all for the benefit of an audience that never tires of eternal recurrence, Palestinian style.

I have found the IDF to be a far more reliable source of news on the war than even Fox News, let alone the Democrats’ media adjunct. Reports based on announcements from the “Gaza Health Ministry” are particularly dubious. I doubt that the news in this IDF report will get through the smoke. Click on the tweet below for more.

A short while ago, 3 terrorists attempted to place an explosive device near the security fence in Rafah, under the cover of violent riots. In response, the IDF fired at the terrorists, who were killed pic.twitter.com/LFRRyfHDzl

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 14, 2018

The IDF, incidentally, has done its best to save lives of those on the other side. I doubt that this will make it through the smoke either.

This is what is written on the leaflets pic.twitter.com/s88z1P83QM

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 14, 2018

Twitter is a useful resource on a day like today. Click here for the IDF Twitter feed, here for Richard Kemp’s, here for Avi Mayer’s, here for Peter Lerner’s, and here for the Times of Israel.

With 37 Gaza Arabs reportedly killed by the IDF in their clashes so far today, Hamas has it going according to plan.


Civil War on the Left, Part 59: Minnesota Not-So-Nice

Posted: 13 May 2018 09:45 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)It’s true. Everyone in Minnesota is nice. Not just Scott and John and Mitch Pearlstein. Everyone, that is, except progressive Democrats. Turns out a Democratic group in the state founded to promote the legacy of the late Paul Wellstone is feuding:

In the Democratic Party’s reckoning following the election of Donald Trump, an unlikely feud has erupted inside an organization at the heart of the progressive movement.

Earlier this year, the board of directors of Wellstone Action — an influential training group formed after Sen. Paul Wellstone’s death — dumbfounded Minnesota Democrats when it voted the late senator’s sons off the governing board.

Supposedly the feud is about money, but Politico notes that the feud started over some ideological divisions:

Still simmering three months after the brothers’ departure, the rift at Wellstone Action offers an unusually raw glimpse of a larger debate playing out among Democrats nationally as the party ramps up for the 2018 midterm elections and beyond. How to win back white, rural voters who went for Trump in 2016, while also courting an increasingly diverse electorate.

The issue stands center stage in Minnesota, where Trump’s steamroller performance in rural America led to a near-disaster for the Democratic Party in 2016. Republicans took control of the state Legislature, while Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of carrying the state — a feat no Republican has managed since Richard Nixon in 1972. . .

David Wellstone and other Democrats close to his father began objecting last year to what he described as Wellstone Action’s abandonment of disaffected Democrats in the rural Midwest — the rural poor were an early focus of the late senator — with an increasingly narrow focus on gender politics and people of color. . .

In an early sign of tension at Wellstone Action, then-board member Rick Kahn, Paul Wellstone’s longtime friend and campaign treasurer, raised concerns in an email to a staffer last year about a draft tax filing in which staff proposed changing the group’s stated mission from a “advancing progressive social change and economic justice” to “advancing progressive social change and economic, racial, and gender justice.”

“I am not remotely questioning the work we do in the realm of racial and gender justice,” Kahn said in the email, one of several documents he provided to POLITICO. “I support it, and applaud it, all of it. That has always been true, and will always remain true. What I am calling into question, and vigorously objecting to, is the strategic thinking in expressly choosing to highlight our work for just those two groups, and no others, in a document posted online, that we share with the entire world.”

The subtext is clear. Minnesota’s urban liberals have decided their principal message to rural Minnesotans is: “Drop dead.”

Looks to me like one more small step to Minnesota turning red.


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