"I deplore… the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them… These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our funtionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief… This has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit." –Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 1814. ME 14:46 — Сделай Америку снова великой Sdelay Ameriku snova velikoy
(John Hinderaker)For many years, people have commented on the seemingly-incongruous alliance between radical Muslims and Communists. In fact, however, there is no mystery: both are hostile to the values of advanced Western civilization and yearn for tyrannies that are not, in practice, particularly different from one another. Thus, while millions of Iranians are celebrating the demise of terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani, we shouldn’t be surprised that Venezuela’s Maduro regime is officially mourning him.
The Venezuelan government offered condolences to the people of Iran for the assassination of Iran’s top general by a US airstrike in Baghdad and praised Iran’s resistance with this poster.
From left to right, the poster pictures Hugo Chavez, Simon Bolivar, Soleimani, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro:
The translation is: “Faces, times and countries change, but the goal is the same.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
One is struck by the fact that American liberals, like Venezuelan Communists, venerate or at least respect Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez. (We can leave Bolivar out of it for now.) One of these days, will “woke” American students walk around with pictures of Soleimani on their t-shirts? I wouldn’t rule it out. Guevara was just as bigoted and homicidal, if nowhere near as effective, as Soleimani.
(Steven Hayward)The good folks at ReasonTV put together this 15-minute highlight reel of Bernie Sanders’s greatest socialist hits, and I expect we’ll see parts of this rolled out by other campaigns—especially Bloomberg but ultimately Trump’s campaign—if Bernie does well in the early primaries. Worth it alone for the quote at the very beginning on the virtue of food lines in socialist countries. That one quote alone ought to kill Bernie’s campaign cold.
P.S. In case you didn’t already know, Bernie is an actual Communist.
Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders once said that he was “physically nauseated” by a speech made by President John F. Kennedy when Sanders was a young man, because Kennedy’s “hatred for the Cuban Revolution […] was so strong.”
“Kennedy was young and appealing and ostensibly liberal,” Sanders reminisced in a 1987 interview with The Gadfly, a student newspaper at the University of Vermont. “But I think at that point, seeing through Kennedy, and what liberalism was, was probably a significant step for me to understand that conventional politics or liberalism was not what was relevant.”
In the same interview, he also criticized Jesse Jackson’s decision to try and affect change by “working within the Democratic party” and offered some pointed remarks about Walter Mondale.
Criticized Jesse Jackson? Isn’t that raaaccciiist???
(Paul Mirengoff)That’s what might be in store on Saturday when the fourth annual Women’s March takes place in Washington, D.C.. The Washington Post says that only about 4,500 women have indicated on Facebook that they will attend. The organizers say they expect 10,000 participants.
It wasn’t always like this. The day after President Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of thousands marched in protest in Washington (an event I covered for Power Line).
Taking into account the thousands of marches nationwide, the Post claims that this was the largest single-day protest in American history. It calls the Women’s March organization “the beating heart of the anti-Trump movement.”
Why, four years later, does the organization barely have a pulse? The Post suggests “burnout,” but that seems more like a label than a genuine explanation.
Perhaps outrage at Trump has diminished in spite of non-stop efforts by the Post and other media outlets to gin it up. Certainly, the dire warnings that fueled the January 2017 protests, and induced so many women to wear pussy hats (the Post discreetly refers to them as pink hats in its article), haven’t come to pass.
Women are as free today as they were three years ago. And they are doing better economically, both in absolute terms and in comparison to men.
This doesn’t mean that the women who marched in 2017 are going to vote for Trump, but it may mean they lack incentive to waste a day converging in downtown D.C.
But there’s more to the demise of the march. The organization behind it has been plagued by “national controversies, financial mismanagement, accusations of anti-Semitism, and a reputation for being unwilling to play nice with others.” That diagnosis is from the Washington Post. Oh dear!
The matter of anti-Semitism surely is playing a significant role, given the number of Jewish women who participated in the original march. The Post confirms this:
Jewish women, in particular, fled the organization en masse after its former co-chairs were accused of making anti-Semitic remarks and aligning themselves with the Nation of Islam and its longtime leader, Louis Farrakhan.
Calls for board members to resign were met with little response. Guila Franklin Siegel, associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said the inaction was disrespectful to Jewish women who were concerned about the direction of the group.
“Disrespect” seems like the least of the problem. A Jew would have to be truly self-hating to want anything to do with an outfit whose then-leaders (Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland) made anti-Semitic remarks and/or aligned themselves with Louis Farrakhan.
Leaders of this year’s event say they are planning “small-scale events” in the days leading up to the march. It looks like the march itself will be a small-scale event.
(Scott Johnson)Chicago’s Morning Answer with Amy Jacobson and Dan Proft on AM 560 invited my friend Leila Adan to discuss her prospective candidacy for Minnesota ‘s Fifth District DFL congressional nomination (video below). Taking off from her Power Line post “Ilhan Omar doesn’t speak for us,” this terrific interview provides another side of the Fifth District (although I am afraid Leila overestimates the number of Jewish voters in the district).
Leila is a proud American and a brave lady. We will follow her campaign once she formally announces her candidacy. She has a message whose importance transcends this particular race.
(Steven Hayward)This week’s guest is Stephen F. Knott of the Naval War College, discussing his terrific new book, The Lost Soul of the American Presidency: The Decline into Demagoguery and the Prospects for Renewal, just out from University Press of Kansas. Knott, one of the nation’s pre-eminent scholars of Alexander Hamilton, thinks the American presidency has slipped from the modest republican design of the Founders almost from the very beginning, starting with Thomas Jefferson. (“I have a full-blown case of Jefferson Derangement Syndrome,” Knott admits early in our conversation.)
The point is, presidents and presidential candidates have been promising the moon, the stars, and the planets for a very long time—it didn’t start with Obama and Trump!—and this has contributed significantly to our polarized politics and dysfunctional government. The prospects for restoring the republican simplicity of the office are not very good, but we do best to try out a couple of thoughts—including the thought experiment of why it would have been better for the country if the Clinton impeachment 20 years ago had succeeded in removing Clinton from office. But it was not to be!
You know what to do: listen here or download from our hosts at Ricochet. Also buy the book: it is very readable and not too long. And subscribe to Power Line in Apple Podcasts (and leave a 5-star review, please!). It helps, and every little bit helps spread goodness and cheer throughout the Deep State
(John Hinderaker)This short video is suddenly everywhere. It comes from a livestream of the service at the church near Fort Worth where someone opened fire on parishioners with what looks like a shotgun. He was immediately shot by two legally armed persons, one of whom reportedly was a security guard. It appears that altogether, there were six people who immediately pulled guns in response to the shooter.
In recent months, there have been a number of anti-Semitic attacks, including attacks on synagogues. There have been a number of attacks on churches as well. Anti-gun pieties do nothing to protect innocent people when lunatics or ideologically-motivated murderers strike. Churches and synagogues, like many other public places, should be protected. Armed guards are great, but as Glenn Reynolds has said, in any mass shooting situation there is one group of people who are present, by definition–the victims. Only, if they are armed, they don’t have to be victims.
(Steven Hayward)Our final episode of 2019 brings together the entire Power Line gang—John, Paul, Scott, and me, along with “Ammo Grrll” Susan Vass—for a look at the current scene and a look ahead to next year. Consisting of excerpts from a recent Power Line VIP member live video chat, John hosts as we review the farce of impeachment, the state of the Democratic nomination contest (including how big a buffoon Joe Biden is), what blue states might actually be in play for Trump (including even Minnesota?!?!), along with a detour into the confused Israeli political scene, and culminating in a constructive proposal from Susan for replacing “The View” on ABC with a show a sane person might actually want to watch.
The excerpts here are only about half of the live chat from last Thursday, and we also had some technical problems keeping Susan connected (either that or she had to excuse herself to go shoot something), so if you enjoy this episode consider joining our VIP program. In the meantime, happy new year, and best wishes from the Power Line crew.
(Paul Mirengoff) George Will argues that “nothing more momentous happened in 2019 than Hong Kong’s heroic insurrection.” I would amend this comment to say “potentially momentous.” We can’t say with confidence what bearing the events in Hong Kong will have on the future.
Events on the periphery of great power can portend what that power will one day experience. This was true of the Soviet Union. However, it was decades from the uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia to the collapse of the “Evil Empire.” And China has considerably more going for it than the Soviet Union ever did.
Events in Hong Kong already bear on how China is viewed by countries it would like to dominate or heavily influence. Will says, “If — when, probably — on Jan. 11, 2020, Taiwan reelects President Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese will have joined Hong Kongers in disdaining the ‘one country, two systems’ fudge as a formula for the incremental suffocation of freedom.”
The people of Taiwan already knew what was up with China. I bet China’s other neighbors did too. But events in Hong Kong provided stark reinforcement of this knowledge.
Do American capitalists know what’s up with China? Perhaps, but they don’t seem to care. Will writes:
With this year’s revelations about the million, or perhaps millions, swept into the gulag archipelago in northwestern China, it is possible to hope that in 2020 we will hear less from U.S. businessmen who are as obtuse as they are cocksure. Just 51 days before the New York Times published more than 400 pages of documents on China’s concentration camps, presidential aspirant Mike Bloomberg said the CCP’s leaders “listen to the public” and “Xi Jinping is not a dictator.”
Not content to just “listen to” the public, the CCP, using ever more sophisticated technology, surveils almost everything done by almost everyone. Perhaps 2019 foreshadowed the day when today’s Bloombergs will be remembered as Charles Lindbergh and others are remembered because they thought dictators in the 1930s were “the wave of the future.”
Bloomberg, Lindbergh, and the NBA.
In the second half of his column, Will gets around to bashing President Trump:
“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi,” said the United States’ president, who also said of Xi: “He’s a friend of mine.” Xi should reciprocate friendly feelings because President Trump’s biggest blunder, made three days after his inauguration, was jettisoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, thereby unraveling a 12-nation fabric of commercial cooperation that excluded China.
I agree with Will that jettisoning the TPP was a major blunder, for the reason he states. But Will refuses to acknowledge that Trump is the first U.S. president in decades to stand up to China in a meaningful way, albeit not on human rights.
Trump’s reversal of our policy of countenancing unfair Chinese trade policies, theft of intellectual property, etc., along with a resulting “decoupling” of the American and Chinese economies, may prove to be among the most momentous things that have happened in the past three years.
(Steven Hayward)On Friday the Wall Street Journal ran an extra-long and remarkable editorial about the agenda of Elizabeth Warren (“Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan, Oh My“), which is so far beyond extravagant that “socialism” seems an inadequate adjective. She makes Bernie Sanders look cautious by comparison. As the Journal put it in the lede:
“[A]s we discovered after a tour of her 60-some policy papers, Ms. Warren is proposing a transformation of American government, business and life that exceeds what the socialist dreamers of a century ago imagined.”
Warren is not simply offering lots and lots of free stuff (Medicare for All, free college, higher Social Security benefits, the Green New Deal, $450 billion in new spending for K-12 education, $500 billion for housing, etc.), but also promises a huge expansion of federal government regulation of just about everything you can name.
I’ve previously offered my theory that Democrats have decided they should make an open lurch to the left because the supposed weakness of Trump presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enact the sweeping socialist agenda that has long been their private dream, even though there is a lot of evidence that many Democratic voters are not super excited about this radical economic agenda, not to mention the identitarian agenda that is equally central to the left at the moment.
An acquaintance with significant experience at the highest ranks of corporate America sent me a note with an additional explanation worth taking up:
Your discussion of the Democrats moving left makes sense. I think there is another factor. Trump refused to take the traditional Republican (Ryan) route of reforming entitlements. Democrats had feasted on this position for decades conjuring all kinds of horrors if reforms were enacted. Trump took this potent issue away from them. What to do? Expand the current entitlements! Once started, a bidding war developed and we have the Democratic candidate consensus on an impossible agenda. Also, the press had difficulty aggressively criticizing Trump’s position because they had endorsed Democratic criticisms of reform. So Trump is in an enviable position of criticizing unrealistic/irresponsible proposals instead of defending reductions.
There is a lot to this explanation, though it ought to be a source of worry for the long term. I believe Trump would not have won his thin majorities in the key states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan (and perhaps his larger margin in Florida) without his prominent campaign pledge not to touch Social Security and Medicare (a promise Ronald Reagan made in the 1984 campaign, after having been hammered very effectively on the issue during his first term; recall too how Bill Clinton made protecting Medicare and Social Security a key slogan of his 1996 re-election campaign).
Consider two additional facts of the Trump fiscal profile. This year the federal government will run a $1 trillion deficit, deep into a cycle of economic growth that ought to be delivering shrinking deficits. If a Democrat were in the White House right now, I imagine Republicans would be objecting loudly to this fiscal profligacy, even if congressional Republicans haven’t shown much real spine for budget restraint. (Don’t blame the Trump pax cuts for this: tax revenues are growing smartly, but congressional appropriations are simply growing faster than tax revenue.)
Second, Trump has proposed some new entitlement spending of his own, such as paid family leave. Time was when conservatives opposed new social spending programs from Republican presidents; think of conservative opposition to Nixon’s proposed guaranteed annual income, the Family Assistance Plan, in 1969-70, not to mention criticism of President Eisenhower’s accommodations of the New Deal in the 1950s.
The Washington Postnoted all this a couple days ago, and for once the Post makes a good point:
President Trump shattered Republican orthodoxy on an extraordinary range of economic policies in 2019, setting up a more populist record for him to tout during a 2020 campaign in which Democrats already are accusing him of abandoning working people.
From trade to spending, from the Federal Reserve to paid parental leave, Trump has embraced policy changes that historically are more in line with the approach of Democrats — establishing a forceful role for government in setting the terms of the economy — than of Republicans.
So if Trump has taken over some Democratic ground, what’s left for the left to do but go further left? The only problem for a liberal today is to figure out why anything shouldn’t be free to everyone. It’s a nice trick Trump has pulled off. But it is not without long term political as well as fiscal cost.
Forget populism, and Trump’s “style”: the abandonment of even the half-hearted fiscal conservatism of the Republican Party is the biggest post-Trump question facing the country.
Chaser—This chart, showing the Federal Reserve balance sheet ballooning again in service of keeping interest rates down (a de facto QE IV?)—is something to wonder about, too:
(Steven Hayward)For several years now the climatistas have liked to point out that the Pentagon—the military-industrial complex!—is down with climate alarmism, issuing a series of reports saying that climate change might be a serious security risk in the future. I always enjoy this celebration, because it is the first time I can remember that the left has embraced with complete credulity something coming out of the Pentagon, which they otherwise wish to gut if not abolish. (By how much do Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders want to cut the defense budget?) Equally amusing is the lack of any perception that Pentagon bureaucrats, like all bureaucrats, might just be engaged in protecting their future budgets by embracing the cause of the moment.
Someone with a Wayback machine has brought back to life this Guardian story from 2004 about the first such Pentagon warning:
A “Siberian climate” for Britain by 2020? I suppose it could still happen in the next 72 hours before 2020 arrives, though I am confused since another prominent climate claim for Britain back in those days was that “snowfalls are a thing of the past.”
I like this sentence further down in the story:
By 2020 ‘catastrophic’ shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war.
So where are these “catastrophic” shortages of water and energy supply? Where water is in short supply, it is almost invariably because of “water socialism” (California specializes in this), while conventional energy is in such abundance at the moment that the biggest problem facing energy producers is how to enforce production cuts enough to keep prices up.
Well maybe the Pentagon just jumped the gun, and climate disaster still looms. In which case I expect climatistas will want to continue supporting a robust defense budget. (Heh.)
Sad news on this eve of Christmas of the passing of John Alvis, a long-time professor at the University of Dallas. Professor Alvis was best known—though nowhere near as well known as he deserved to be—as a profound thinker and teacher on the relation between literature and politics. He wrote several extraordinary books and essays about Shakespeare’s politics in particular, but equally fine books on Homer, Virgil, and Milton.
I never got to know Prof. Alvis very well, but I was always struck by his warm personality and kindliness when I did chance across him. And I always knew that when you picked up a new Alvis book or essay, you were in for something quite extraordinary and profound.
It is tempting to offer long excerpts from Prof. Alvis’s work, but I’ll confine myself to the opening paragraph of his splendid book, Shakespeare’s Understanding of Honor (1990):
If ordinate love of honor has a deficiency and an excess, we should set down Falstaff for the deficiency. As he looks about for safety on the battlefield of Shrewsbury, Falstaff asks, “What is honor?”—a rhetorical question, obviously, for he has an answer ready to hand which he believes suffices to excuse him from paying the heavy debt that Hal had just laid upon him when he said, “thou owest God a death.” Honor impels the soldier to die for his king; yet honor, as Falstaff replies to his own question, is nothing more than a “word,” mere “air.” It will not set a bone of minister to a wound; it has “no skill in surgery;” it serves merely to adorn the gravestone of the man who has bartered his life for the word. A good nam reduces to a cold inscription on a tomb, “a mere scutcheon.” For two reasons, according to Falstaff, honor makes a poor recompense for the loss of warm, bodily life: the dead man cannot enjoy the renown he has earned and, in any case, his honor will not survive the ravages inflicted by changing opinion. To this mock catechism detailing the insubstantiality of honor Falstaff will subsequently add his encomium to sherris sack, that altogether corporeal source of vigor for mean-spirited men. Honor proves inferior to wine in the degree that insubstantial words fall short of certifiably physical supports for a life of comfort carefully preserved.
See what I mean? From here Prof. Alvis unfolds a lengthy, patient and utterly stirring account of Shakespeares’s refutation of Falstaff in the entire corpus of Shakespeare’s work. But of course, Alvis’s real target is modernity itself, with its debased materialist and morally relativist understanding of human life. Just as Shakespeare by necessity wrote indirectly about these matters (because he was writing drama rather than traditional philosophy), so too our recovery of an older and sounder understanding can proceed by the indirect method of considering great literature afresh.
Alvis explained it partially in his preface to Shakespeare’s Understanding of Honor:
A word about my method may spare the reader the trouble of trying to imagine what assumptions have produced a manner he will find old-fashioned or unfamiliar. The reactionary style comports with the reactionary intent. I practice a mode of interpretation that finds its motive in searching out the moral wisdom available in the best poets. For this task, very little of the language now favored by literary critics proves serviceable.[Emphasis added.]
I can see why a generation of students was devoted to him, and inspired by him. RIP.
(John Hinderaker)The Wall Street Journal sends a daily email to subscribers with highlights from the news. Today’s email begins:
Stocks and bonds are staging an extraordinary run. They are on track for their biggest simultaneous gains in more than two decades. The S&P 500 has soared 28.6% this year, while a bond rally has pushed the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note down by three quarters of a percentage point. Yields move inversely to prices.
Behind this year’s gains: An improving economic outlook, progress on trade and the Fed’s interest-rate cuts.
The progress on trade includes, most recently, China’s announcement that it will lower tariffs on more than 800 product categories. Also from the Wall Street Journal:
China will cut import tariffs for frozen pork, pharmaceuticals and some high-tech components starting from Jan. 1, a move that comes as Beijing and Washington are trying to complete a phase-one trade deal.
The plan, approved by China’s cabinet, will lower tariffs for all trading partners on 859 types of products to below the rates that most-favored nations enjoy, the Finance Ministry said Monday. …
The lower levies will apply to frozen pork, as China aims to shore up its meat supplies amid an outbreak of swine fever, as well as semiconductor products and medicines to treat asthma and diabetes. Tariffs on some of the products will go to zero.
The announcement comes as China and the U.S. are close to signing a trade deal aimed at putting an end to a tit-for-tat tariff war that has lasted nearly two years. Neither side has released a version of their draft agreement, but China said it would purchase more American products, including farm goods, while Washington said it would cancel plans for fresh round of tariffs while reducing some existing ones.
Monday’s tariffs cuts appear to pave the way for China to import more from the U.S. without violating international trading rules that ban managed trade. Chief U.S. trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer has said Beijing promised to increase imports from the U.S. by $200 billion over the next two years, including the purchase of at least $40 billion in U.S. farm goods annually.
And, of course, the Democrats have finally abandoned their effort to kill the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.
The liberal press likes to portray President Trump as a troglodytic protectionist, but that was never Trump’s position on trade. As we are now seeing, Trump wanted to renegotiate several trade agreements to make them more favorable to the U.S., and he also has been willing, in the case of China, to use trade as a lever to obtain other concessions. But the bottom line of his efforts has been freer and fairer trade.
To this point, not much attention has been paid to Trump’s backing off on a threat to impose tariffs on Brazil (and, likely, Argentina):
This was a very good move by @POTUS to end threat of tariffs on #Brazil.
They are a very important partner & a friendly regional & global leader whose OECD membership & role in @NATO partnerships we will be promoting. https://t.co/vi5rpAaNor
Most important, of course, is the fact that Trump’s policies have promoted economic growth, job growth, and higher wages. Over a year ago, I testified before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was already producing measurable results in Minnesota. Today, those consequences are even clearer.
I think pretty much everyone understands that the Democrats are pursuing their impeachment charade in part because they have no answers to President Trump’s record on the economy. The claim, often repeated in Democratic presidential debates, that Trump’s economy is leaving working-class Americans behind, is the opposite of the truth.
(John Hinderaker)Boris Johnson is like Winston Churchill, in that even his bitterest critics concede that he is extraordinarily talented. Attacks on Johnson, as on Churchill, often begin, “Sure, he is brilliant, but…” This clip from a recent interview illustrates the point. It also reflects that Johnson, like Donald Trump, has a sense of humor:
Boris reciting the Iliad from memory. In ancient Greek.
(Paul Mirengoff)When I read about a high profile murder, I often check the background of the accused killer. Almost invariably, if the killer is an adult, I find that he has a criminal record such that, in a properly functioning justice system, he would be in prison.
Last week, in Nashville, a man murdered Clayton Beathard and Paul Trapeni. Beathard is the brother of C.J. Beathard, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He is also the grandson of Bobby Beathard, the architect of Super Bowl-winning Washington Redskins teams and members of the NFL Hall of Fame.
I had planned to look into the background of Michael Mosley, the man police are looking for in connection with these murders based on surveillance tape. However, the ever-vigilant Daniel Horowitz has already done so.
According to arrest records, Mosley had a history of burglary and drug charges during his early days. He barley served time in jail. Then, according to WKRN, Mosley was involved in a stabbing in May 2015 for which he was found guilty.
He was involved in an inmate brawl at Cheatham County Jail this March. In October 2018, he was charged with domestic assault resulting in bodily injury. On December 5, 2018, he was charged with viciously punching a woman in the store “over and over again.”
It appears that he was arrested for the December 2018 incident on November 5 of this year and was released on just $5,000 bond. Which means, despite the previous conviction for violent assault, he was out of prison some time earlier this year after serving just a few months.
How can this be? Because America systematically under-incarcerates vicious criminals.
Nor is the scandal confined to Blue America. As I discussed here, some Red States are in the vanguard when it comes, effectively, to decriminalizing crime.
Tennessee is among the states identified in my post. Bill Lee, its Republican governor, has promised to empty the state’s jails. Lee idiotically stated, “We have to be creative and innovative and disruptive and challenge the way we’ve been doing things forever.”
“Forever,” or at least until fairly recently, society has locked up, and for lengthy periods, dangerous thugs who repeatedly commit violent crimes. Thugs like the guy who, it appears, killed Clayton Beathard and Paul Trapeni.
But Gov. Bill Lee is too creative to follow this practice. Any old governor can incarcerate dangerous criminals. It takes innovators like Lee to let them roam our streets.
How many more Tennesseans will be victims of violent crime because of jailbreak polices? How many more will die in the name of “creative and innovative and disruptive challenge[s] to the way we’ve been doing things forever”?
One more victim would be too many, and there’s a good chance there will be more than one.
(Scott Johnson)Gregg Jarrett’s Witch Hunt is one of this year’s good books on the Russia hoax. Jarrett’s subtitle — The Story of the Greatest Mass Delusion in American Political History — posits that the hoax may have derived from something other than intentional wrongdoing, but Jarrett leaves no stone unturned to make out willful misconduct.
I find the book frustrating in certain respects. It lacks an index. It is argumentative. It may fail to raise or address counterarguments a few times along the way, but the book is too long as it is.
As he was finishing the book, Jarrett snagged an Oval Office interview with President Trump on June 25, 2019. He quotes from the interview occasionally throughout the book. One such quote appears on page 399 at the head of Jarrett’s Afterword, and as far as I am concerned it conveys the effectual truth of the case. Trump tells Jarrett:
Most guys would’ve crawled in a corner with their thumb in their mouth. Okay? Saying “Mommy take me home.” I found it to be an incredible challenge. What shocked me was the level of corruption. They really did try to take away an election.
John Hinderaker 📢Will a White Supremacist Please Step Forward?PowerLine 📢
Posted: 23 Dec 2019 04:44 PM PST (John Hinderaker)
The demand for white supremacists vastly exceeds the supply, which is why we see absurdities like the controversy over military academy students supposedly flashing “white power” signs at the Army-Navy football game. Now, apparently, the age-old “OK” sign means you are a white nationalist, notwithstanding that there are pictures of pretty much everyone in public life giving the sign, like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and nearly everyone else.
Barack Obama, white supremacist
Or maybe it only means white supremacy if you give the OK sign upside down. Who decreed this? Who knows? Apparently some goofballs on an obscure site called 4chan invented the idea that the OK sign (or maybe the upside-down OK sign) stands for white supremacy, as a joke. Sort of like Putin’s putzing with the 2016 election, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. And for the same reason: As silly as their effort was, there was an enormous will to believe within the Democratic Party media.
To no one’s surprise, two investigations have concluded that the midshipmen and cadets who flashed the “OK” sign were not expressing white nationalist views, but rather were playing “the circle game.” Which sounds dumb, but so what?
A high school in the Chicago suburbs is reprinting its 2018-2019 yearbooks at a cost of more than $50,000 after school officials spotted photos of students making “OK” hand gestures.
The use of the “OK” sign has been tied to white supremacist movements in recent years, though the relevance of the connection is often unclear.
That’s putting it mildly! The “tie,” as far as I know, is solely via the 4chan prank.
Oak Park River Forest High School, located in the prototypically “limousine liberal” town of Oak Park, will shell out $53,794, negotiated down from $85,000, for the new mementos. According to a letter seen by INSIDER, the yearbook contained 18 photos in which an “upside-down OK sign” was performed by students.
This is all craziness, of course, but it is craziness with a purpose. The Left is desperate to keep its racism narratives alive, no matter how threadbare they may be. Thus we see the New York Times’ ridiculous “1619 Project,” which recasts American history in a way that no respectable historian would countenance. Does that bother the Times? Not at all. The goal is political, and is focused especially on the 2020 presidential race.
Likewise with the “OK” sign. I don’t have a high opinion of the intelligence of the average liberal, but even Democratic Party reporters are not dumb enough to take seriously the idea that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the many millions more who have given the “OK” sign are closet white supremacists. So what is going on here?
Obviously, as noted above, the demand for white supremacists vastly exceeds the supply. It is vital to the Left’s narrative that white racism be alive and well–in fact, that it be an ever-increasing threat. But, obviously, it isn’t. If there were real evidence of a white supremacist movement (as opposed to one guy named Spencer who invariably is mentioned then the topic comes up), Democrats would cite that evidence.
But there isn’t any. I, personally, know hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people, but as far as I know I have never yet met a white supremacist. So the Democrats are reduced to whipping up enthusiasm among their voters, especially minority voters, with moronic attacks on Academy cadets and midshipmen and high school students. Are black and other minority Americans dumb enough to fall for this transparent ruse? I doubt it.
One thing we can say for sure: white supremacism has declined a long way from the days when it was the lifeblood of the Democratic Party, and Democrats expressed their racist views by hanging people. How much more peaceful it would have been if someone had taught the Democrats the “OK” sign!
There are several new wrinkles in the saga of the New York Times‘s egregious and ideological “1619 Project” beyond the fine Roger Kimball essay that Paul highlights below. This can only mean one thing: time for another episode with “Lucretia,” Power Line’s International Woman of Mystery, and scourge of all things politically correct.
New developments in the story include a stinging letter to the editor of the New York Times magazine from five eminent American historians who are chiefly of a liberal bent themselves, such as Sean Wilentz, James Oakes, and Gordon Wood. For the record, I’m not a huge fan of Gordon Wood (explaining why in this long essay from a while ago) or Wilentz, but it is significant that these historians have decided to take such a public stand. I can only imagine that many historians and political scientists of a liberal bent likely agree with them, but like dissenters from the climate “consensus,” they are afraid to say so publicly for fear of being branded as a privileged white racist. The response of the Times editor is pretty weak, but provides occasion for us to correct the slanders directed at Lincoln from this woeful enterprise.
In fact some “historians of color” also dissent from the willful narrow-mindedness of the 1619 Project, such as Adolf Reed, who offers his quirky critique at the website of . . . (checks notes) . . . World Socialists?? What have the socialists got against the 1619 Project? It seems that these old-school revolutionaries think the embrace of identity politics actually serve the reactionary end of preventing a socialist revolution in our time. Pass the popcorn, as we marvel at the left’s intramural civil war over the civil war.
More broadly, the left is having an identity crisis paradoxically because of its tight embrace of identity politics. That’s the case of another great article just out we talk about toward the end of this episode, and you’ll want to listen all the way to the end for some discussion of different methods of cooking the traditional Christmas rib roast (mine will be on a rotisserie grill!), and ending finally with the proper exit music for the season—”Christmas Wrapping” from The Waitresses. Merry Christmas everybody!
I don’t know of anyone who skewers the subversive antics of the American left as savagely, yet as elegantly, as Roger Kimball. In this article for the New Criterion, Roger trains his guns on the New York Times’ 1619 project.
That project is, in the words of the Times, an effort to “reframe [America’s] history, [by] understanding 1619 [when the first slave ships arrived here] as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.” In other words, it’s an effort to persuade Americans that they are citizens of a country that is, and always has been, evil.
Roger shows that Dean Baquet, the Times’ Executive Editor, launched the 1619 project as a result of the collapse of the Russia collusion narrative the paper peddled for two years:
Last summer, [Baquet] huddled with his staff in a town-hall-style meeting—the proceedings of which were promptly leaked—and acknowledged a sad truth: “We built our newsroom to cover one story” (the now-debunked story that Donald Trump had “colluded” with Russia to steal the 2016 election).
The story didn’t pan out. “Now we have to regroup,” Baquet told the assembled troops, “and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.” What story? Henceforth, or at least “for the next two years”—the remainder of Trump’s first term—the Times was going all in on “race, and other divisions.”
In other words, the Times couldn’t bring down Trump by harping on Russia, but maybe it can bring him down by harping on race. Or at least, in the process of trying, make Americans hate their country.
The problem with the 1619 project is that, like the Russia collusion hoax, it is delusional. Says Roger:
[The 1619 project is] a stupefying race-based fantasy about the origins of the United States. The lead essay, by the black journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, the “architect” of The 1619 Project, set the tone. “[O]ne of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain,” she wrote, “was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.”
So, everything you learned about the American Revolution is wrong, or at least wrongheaded. Forget about the Stamp Act, the, Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, “No taxation without representation,” etc. All that, utterly unmentioned by Ms. Hannah-Jones, was mere window dressing.
The American colonists might talk about liberty. What they really cared about, according to this malignant fairy tale, was preserving and extending the institution of slavery. “[S]ome might argue,” as Hannah-Jones coyly puts it, “that this nation was founded not as a democracy but as a slavocracy.” Gosh.
Of course, “some might argue” any number of incredible things: that the earth is flat, that the moon is made of green cheese, that The New York Times is still a responsible source of news and even-handed commentary. The fact that “some might argue” X does not mean that X is credible.
The ravings of the 1619 project are not credible. In fact, they are too fanciful even for socialists:
[S]ome of the most vigorous rejoinders appear in the World Socialist Web Site, which has run long interviews with two deans of the history of the American Founding, James McPherson and Gordon Wood, neither of whom were consulted by the Times for The 1619 Project. McPherson, though eminently circumspect, concludes that The 1619 Project is
a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history. And slavery in the United States was only a small part of a larger world process that unfolded over many centuries.
Wood concurs and notes further that the idea, propounded by The 1619 Project, that the American Revolution was fomented in order to protect slavery is simply ridiculous. On the contrary, “it is the northern states in 1776 that are the world’s leaders in the antislavery cause. . . . The Revolution unleashed antislavery sentiments that led to the first abolition movements in the history of the world.”
The 1619 Project pretends that the British were great crusaders in the campaign against slavery. But Wood points out, first, that the “British don’t get around to freeing the slaves in the West Indies until 1833,” and, second, that “if the Revolution hadn’t occurred,” they “might never have done so then, because all of the southern colonies would have been opposed. So supposing the Americans hadn’t broken away, there would have been a larger number of slaveholders in the greater British world who might have been able to prolong slavery longer than 1833.”
Roger concludes his take down of the 1619 project on a mildly optimistic note:
The 1619 Project represents a new nadir in the politically correct, anti-American machinations of The New York Times. Many sober observers would have dismissed it as beneath comment were it not that the residual prestige of the Times lends currency if not credibility to its illiterate and partisan contentions.
Perhaps an unintended collateral benefit of this malign folly will be—finally, at last—to dissolve the vestiges of that prestige and expose the paper to the condign contempt of the public whose trust they have so extravagantly betrayed.
Let’s hope so. It is either the Times’s standing or America’s.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recorded a Hanukah statement that he released via Twitter yesterday (below). The video is also posted on the 10 Downing Street YouTube channel here (comments are turned off). I learned via Ed Driscoll/InstaPundit that Israel National News has taken note of the statement and transcribed it here.
Like President Trump, Prime Minister Johnson chooses to stand with the Jewish people. It represents a striking commonality of their public profiles. Coincidentally, Dominic Green writes in his review of Norman Lebrecht’s Genius & Anxiety in the Wall Street Journal this morning:
The “Jewish Question” has returned on a resentful tide of lies and violence. It is now, Norman Lebrecht observes in this thrilling and tragic history, “cool to be cruel about Jews (though not about other minorities).” Frightening for Jews, this should alarm all Americans. The fever of Jew-hatred is an inerrant symptom of moral rot and civilizational crisis.
Earlier this month President Trump held a remarkable Hanukkah-related event in the White House. His remarks at the event are posted here. “As President,” he vowed, “I will always celebrate and honor the Jewish people, and I will always stand with our treasured friend and ally, the State of Israel — that, I can tell you.”
Both President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson seek to stave off moral rot and perpetuate our civilization.
Britain would not be Britain without its Jewish community. And we will stand with you and celebrate with you – at Chanukah and all year round. pic.twitter.com/S5ClRprCuL
The podcast doesn’t take us inside the plot at the core of Lee’s book, but it takes us inside the uncovering of the plot. Speaking from his experience, Rep. Nunes cites the adage about survivors of a nuclear war: cockroaches and Communists. Adam Schiff may fall into both categories.
This podcast tells the most important story of the Trump era. It is a disgraceful story, but it is a story with a hero. That’s the story Lee Smith got down.
The interview captured in the podcast comes in the aftermath of the Department of Justice Inspector General report released on December 9. It is shot through with the corroboration that animates this “we now know” series of posts.
Quotable quote (Nunes on the Steele Dossier): “When I first saw it, I laughed.”
Quotable quote (Lee Smith on the plot): “It’s a horrible, shameful story.”
I learned of the podcast via Lee’s tweet below. The podcast can also be accessed via Lee’s tweet.
Here’s the podcast from the now historic Visalia CA event w/ @DevinNunes @RayAppletonKMJ & me during which the congressman leaped from his seat to save POTUS … listen as the crowd goes wild! Fun evening & a great talk. Thanks, Visalia! https://t.co/0L7x8zyBxA
(John Hinderaker)I am en route home from the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend in Palm Beach, Florida. This was my first Restoration Weekend, but it won’t be my last. It was an intense three days; I can’t begin to do it justice in a post but will try to touch on a few highlights that may be of interest to our readers.
* David Horowitz, at age 80, remains a national treasure. This morning there was a touching memorial tribute to Peter Collier, David’s long-time friend, and collaborator. It is good to see that David is still going strong.
* Victor Davis Hanson spoke at the opening dinner Friday night. He put aside his prepared remarks to talk about the impeachment fiasco now taking place in Washington. We had a chance to chat briefly after the event.
* Donald Trump, Jr. spoke at Saturday’s breakfast. He was excellent–in my view, a top-notch surrogate who pulls no punches. Those who attended Restoration Weekend got a copy of his new book, Triggered. I am only a few chapters into it, but it is surprisingly good–one of the fieriest books I have ever read. It tells the story of the last three years from an insider’s perspective, and Donald Jr. is brutal in his evaluations of figures like Robert Mueller. Scott sometimes talks about needing help with his anger management therapy. Trust me: Triggered is therapeutic.
* I was on the first panel of the weekend, on the role of the press in the 2020 election, along with Ned Ryun, Joe Concha, and Chris Buskirk. I expressed views that are probably already familiar to Power Line readers. A fundamental question, I think, is whether the legacy media can still sway many votes, now that most people understand that they are an arm of the Democratic Party. Which has been true for a long time, but has become blindingly obvious due to the hate that Donald Trump has engendered.
* Saturday evening’s dinner featured an extensive lineup that included impressionist Rich Little. He began his act by saying, “Yes, I am still alive!” Not only is he alive, but he is also performing four nights a week in Las Vegas. Little is still funny, and what’s more, he is a solid conservative.
* Candace Owens was the main Friday evening speaker. She arrived in Palm Beach shortly before the dinner, coming from England where she had debated the impeachment of President Trump at the Oxford Union. I am pretty sure she won, although the Oxford students voted narrowly in favor of impeachment. Candace was even better than usual at our event and characteristically remained for an hour after the event was over, chatting with attendees and posing for pictures.
* Pretty much every session, of which there were many, was excellent. I can’t summarize them all, so I will highlight just a few, starting with a panel on K-12 indoctrination in the public schools that included two Minnesotans, Amy “Valentine” and Lynn McHale. It was terrific, and I was struck by the audience’s response. The depth to which our public schools have sunk surprises even a lot of well-informed conservatives.
* For me, the most eye-opening presentation was Caroline Glick’s. In recent years, I have been puzzled by Israeli politics, with its endless accusations of “corruption” and seeming inability to maintain a functioning government. Caroline explained it all: Israel is in the hands of its own Deep State. Unelected bureaucrats, led by a rogue Supreme Court that is not restricted to deciding actual cases, as in the U.S., but can issue orders more or less willy-nilly and somehow has gotten the power to name its own successors, dominate over the country’s elected officials. What is happening in Israel, which seemingly can be countered only by mass political action, should be a warning to Americans as well as Europeans. After her speech, we chatted briefly and she told me that she enjoys Power Line–high praise, in my book.
* James O’Keefe put on a bravura video presentation about Project Veritas. O’Keefe is a natural showman, and PV’s achievements over the last ten years are impressive. He brought out the CNN whistleblower to a thunderous round of applause from the audience.
* We have gotten to know some young black conservatives due to our participation in Turning Point’s Black Leadership Summits in Washington. This year, my organization collaborated with Turning Point USA and the Horowitz Freedom Center to bring some of these young conservatives to Restoration Weekend, all expenses paid. They are fine young people and visibly enjoyed the experience. Here we are with a couple of them:
* Restoration Weekend is held at The Breakers, one of America’s truly great resorts. We played hooky a couple of times to sit by a pool or walk on the beach. One couldn’t find a better venue for a conference or a vacation.
* After dinner on Friday, my wife and I went into the wonderful Seafood Bar for a drink. After a few minutes, a young man who was sitting by himself at the next table got up and approached us. “Are you John Hinderaker?” he asked. I confessed, and he, describing himself as a daily Power Line reader, joined us. A little later his wife arrived, having worked late. They ate dinner while Loree and I commandeered some of their oysters. They are a delightful couple, and we talked with them until 1:00 a.m. They spent the weekend at The Breakers celebrating the wife’s birthday; I hope she has forgiven us!
* Saturday evening’s dinner featured, among others, Diamond and Silk. I had never seen them perform, except in the briefest video snippets. They are hilarious, and their political comedy is smart and up to the minute. I sometimes say that unless you have hung out with black conservatives, you haven’t hung out with conservatives. Diamond and Silk illustrate the point, as does former football star Burgess Owens, another of Saturday’s speakers.
Diamond and Silk
* There was much more, uniformly worthwhile and inspiring. Kudos to David Horowitz, Michael Finch, Lonny Leitner and those behind the scenes at the Horowitz Freedom Center. This was my first time at Restoration Weekend, but next year, I wouldn’t miss it. If you can make it next year, I highly recommend it.
(Paul Mirengoff)During a recess late in a trial where the plaintiff alleged he had been fired due to his race and/or his age, a federal district court judge said to his law clerk:
Sure, this guy was discriminated against. But he wasn’t discriminated against because he’s black and he wasn’t discriminated against because he’s over 40. He was discriminated because he’s an ass***e.
It might well be the case that, a few years ago, Colin Kaepernick was discriminated against because he led a mini-movement that resulted in some NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem. I never managed to feel sorry for Kaepernick, but I do believe it’s wrong to deny employment to an athlete because of his political views and the way he lawfully expresses them.
The furor over Kaepernick’s views and antics have long since died down, and the NFL seems to have regained the viewers it lost during the knee-taking controversy. There may have been hard feelings against Kaepernick over the legal action he brought against the League. However, by offering Kaepernick a special workout session that all 32 teams could attend, the NFL showed it will let bygones be bygones, if for no other reason than to avoid future litigation.
As Steve noted here, Kaepernick responded by balking at the terms and conditions of the workout and demanding all manner of special treatment. The NFL agreed to most of his demands.
But this was not enough for Kaepernick. Having failed to get 100 percent of what he wanted, Kaepernick rescheduled the session and moved it from the Atlanta Falcons’ facility to a school an hour away.
Representatives from 25 teams were prepared to attend the session scheduled for the Falcons’ facility. Representatives from eight attended the session Kaepernick threw together at the last minute.
After watching a video of the last portion of the workout, Daniel Jeremiah, a respected talent evaluator, said of Kaepernick:
He looked similar to what he has been. Plenty of velocity, inconst[ent] touch/feel. Looked a little gassed.
What Kaepernick “has been” is probably good enough to win a job as a second-string quarterback in the NFL. If Kaepernick doesn’t get that opportunity, it won’t be because he knelt during the National Anthem and it won’t be because he litigated against the NFL.
(John Hinderaker)Rasmussen asked this question about the Democrats’ politicized impeachment charade: “When they write or talk about the impeachment effort, are most reporters trying to help impeach President Trump, or block his impeachment? Or are most reporters simply interested in reporting the news in an unbiased manner?”
Most voters don’t expect fair play from the media when it comes to news coverage of the Democrats’ impeachment attempt.
Fifty-three percent (53%) of Likely U.S. Voters think most reporters are trying to help impeach President Trump when they write or talk about the impeachment effort. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 32% believe most reporters are simply interested in reporting the news in an unbiased manner. Eight percent (8%) say most are trying to block Trump’s impeachment.
My guess is that most of those who say the press is merely reporting the news doesn’t actually believe it, but are just Democratic Party loyalists.
Interestingly, minorities are more skeptical of reporters’ motives than whites:
Other minority voters (60%) believe even more strongly than whites (51%) and blacks (53%) that most reporters are trying to help impeach Trump.
I expect President Trump to do quite well with all the principal minority groups (blacks, Hispanics, and Asians) in next year’s election.
(Scott Johnson)The Daily Mail has recently published two stories — here (October 21) and, most recently, here (November 12) — covering the tabloid-friendly aspects of Ilhan Omar’s life and career. These stories directly demonstrate a few of the lies that Omar is living and indirectly illustrate the protective cover provided by the Star Tribune.
The Daily Mail is doing the work that the Star Tribune refuses to do, as I am here on Power Line. My thing is the incredible frauds in which Omar is enmeshed. I mean to keep at it until she removes herself from high political office. She is not the most important political figure in our firmament, but she lives and works in my back yard and I have developed knowledgeable sources as well as an appreciative readership in Minneapolis’s Somali community. Attention is warranted.
The Daily Mail’s coverage of Omar has had an impact on the Somali community. They are embarrassed by her. They do not appreciate the humiliation of her most recent ex-husband husband (Ahmed Hirsi, universally known by the nickname Southside), a widely respected player. They have come to see that she is quite the phony. They have come to see her as unrepresentative of the community. (I can’t say the same about the millennial snowflakes and other DFL activists in the district.)
In the past two weeks, I have met with three new Somali sources. They have confirmed everything we have previously reported here about Omar’s back pages. In addition, I have continued to meet with my original Somali sources. Their reliability has been proved many times over. Taken together, they have made the following points:
• There is widespread fear of Omar in the community. They do not feel free to speak out publicly. They require assurance that I will keep their identity in confidence.
• At a meeting with two of my three new sources last week, we spotted Hirsi through a window. “There is Southside,” said one of them, and told me to “close your notebook” (she actually closed it for me).
• They all know that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is Omar’s brother. They didn’t all know that Omar purported to marry him in 2009 until we began covering the issue in 2016.
• Omar made a separate side deal with Hirsi to continue his public silence. She has agreed to pay him $250,000 over time. None of this is reflected in the October 31 divorce decree itself.
I would add only this note based on my own experience. This story is out there for the asking. Any serious reporter who spent time in Minneapolis would find it. The New York Times, the New Yorker, the Daily Beast, the Star Tribune and all the rest — they don’t want it. They want to leave it right where it is.
(Steven Hayward)This week I catch up with Henry Olsen to go through the inside baseball of the unfolding Democratic presidential primary season, but also the inside baseball about . . . baseball! Did you know that the Houston Astros colluded with the Russians and Ukrainians to steal the 2017 World Series! So runs the allegation, with hearings no doubt to follow. In any case, I actually stumped Henry by recalling the slowest relief pitcher ever, Don “Full Pack” Stanhouse. (And when it comes to reforming baseball to make it great again, Henry has a simple proposal: make the fielding gloves smaller. You’ll just have to listen to learn his reasons why—I’m not giving it away here.)
But the main event of this episode is the Democratic field, with new entrants Deval Patrick and Michael Bloomberg. Henry says to keep an eye on Patrick. We also preview the upcoming British election, which Henry will attend and report on for the Washington Post. The election is setting up as a proxy for Brexit, and Henry expects the Conservative Party and Boris Johnson to do very well. But we’re still almost a month off from the election, so stay tuned.