Column: Efforts to remove Trump didn't start with Ukraine. And won't end there.
Maybe Nancy Pelosi held on to the impeachment articles because she was waiting for her pens to arrive. The fancy commemorative ballpoints, featuring the speaker’s name engraved in gold, that Pelosi gave to colleagues at Wednesday’s engrossment ceremony quickly became the subject of mockery. Republicans saw them as emblematic of Democratic partisanship and triviality. “Nothing says seriousness and sobriety like handing out souvenirs,” saidMitch McConnell. “As though this were a happy bill-signing instead of the gravest process in our Constitution.”
In Pelosi’s eyes, impeachment is something to celebrate. It’s more than an accomplishment. It’s the most significant product of the 116th Congress. What McConnell calls “the gravest process” has been the preferred means of Democrats to inflict maximum damage on President Trump and possibly remove him from office before the end of his term. The trial that begins on Tuesday has been years in the making. And the drive to impeach Trump won’t end when the verdict is rendered. He may well end up the first president to be impeached multiple times.
Maxine Waters has been chanting “impeach 45” since the spring of 2017. Rep. Al Green introduced the first impeachment resolution that summer. Tom Steyer founded “Need to Impeach” that October. In November 2017 a group of House Democrats introduced additional articles of impeachment. The same thing happened in December 2017, January 2018, March 2019, May 2019, and July 2019. House Democrats accuse Trump of violating the emoluments clause, obstructing justice, associating with white nationalism, separating families of illegal immigrants, and more.
Pelosi resisted. Why? Not because she thought impeachment was wrong. Because none of the articles advanced by the left could win a majority of her caucus.
Then the whistleblower arrived. The story he told about shenanigans in Ukraine was enough to bring aboard moderates from swing districts. The rushed inquiry and polarized vote on two vague and weak articles betrayed the political motivations behind the enterprise. Impeachment shields Pelosi from leftwing recriminations in the event that Trump is reelected and Democrats retain the House. And the investigations, hearings, and trial guarantee a steady stream of bad press for Trump and hostile questions that make some Republicans squirm.
Pelosi is more than happy for additional evidence to be disclosed and for the Senate to call witnesses, even after the House has impeached and when the resolution of the trial is foreordained. It’s not justice she’s after. It’s victory in November. Expect leaks of damaging information before key procedural votes just as happened during the Kavanaugh confirmation fight. When Trump is acquitted or the charges against him dismissed, Democrats will pronounce the verdict illegitimate and accuse Republican senators of involvement in a cover-up. No charge is too outlandish. Pelosi and impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries have advanced the ridiculous conspiracy that McConnell has “Russian connections” of his own. “It’s a win-win,” Chuck Schumer toldthe New York Times.
There’s a cautionary lesson for Democrats in the Kavanaugh episode. As the allegations against Kavanaugh grew more absurd, and the D.C. climate more inhospitable, Republicans found themselves more unified. The senators that Democrats hope will side with them on procedural motions might demur. Susan Collins, for example, isn’t anybody’s pawn. “I don’t think Chuck Schumer is very interested in my opinion,” she said in a blistering comment to the Times. “I don’t think he’s really very interested in doing anything but trying to defeat me by telling lies to the people of Maine. And you can quote me on that.”
After the House Intelligence Committee dropped a trove of documents from Lev Parnas, the former Giuliani associate under indictment for campaign finance violations, the day before senators were sworn in as jurors, Collins said, “I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it’s only now being revealed.” Good question!
House Republicans voted in unison against impeachment not because they fear President Trump but because the Democratic case was weak. A similar dynamic might take shape once senators who haven’t been paying attention to the scandal listen—in silence—to the House managers and the president’s attorneys. How the House managers such as Adam Schiff behave on the Senate floor might also sway jurors.
The test of Republican unity will be a motion to call witnesses. Republican senators will have to ask why they would want to make Schumer’s job—winning the Senate for Democrats in 2020—any easier by crossing party lines. Prolonging the trial would legitimize a flawed and politicized investigation. Republicans understand by now that Pelosi and Schumer aren’t engaged in an honest fact-finding mission. They are the leaders of an impeachment that will never end.
(CNN)House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have been bested by Mitch McConnell yet again. The two Democrats attempted to create impeachment leverage where none existed by withholding the Articles of Impeachment passed last month against President Donald Trump.But like your Aunt Frieda threatening not to bring her awful fruitcake to Christmas Dinner, their plan didn’t work. Nobody wanted it in the first place.
McConnell won this round against his Keystone Cops opposition because he has something Schumer and Pelosi don’t: a reasonable argument.The Senate majority leader has insisted from the beginning that if the House were to impeach Trump, the Senate should treat him the same way it treated Bill Clinton in 1998. So, McConnell has steadfastly argued for the same rules package that passed the Senate 100-0 in the Clinton iteration. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” makes a pretty sensible argument. The Democrats have raged against his position. This is different, they say. They are right — this is different. The articles of impeachment against Clinton were bipartisan, and the ones against Trump aren’t.Given the hyper partisan nature of this impeachment against Trump, McConnell’s offer for the Clinton rules should have been greeted by Democrats with open arms. But instead they have demanded to treat a Republican president different from the way a Democratic president was treated not so long ago under the guise of producing a fair trial.
It’s the height of hypocrisy for Schumer to lead this charge. He used his impeachment vote in his 1998 Senate campaign as a political weapon, promising donors and voters that supporting him would lead to Clinton’s acquittal. In fact, some might even call what Schumer did a quid pro quo — you support me, and I’ll vote to acquit your president. Today, he tears into McConnell on a near daily basis for not being an impartial juror. What a joke. Schumer voted for the Clinton rules package back then and opposes it now because, well … I guess opposing Donald Trump is a helluva drug.Democrats have repeatedly made their feelings on Trump known. Just Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren said: “I am willing to listen to the Trump administration put on a defense … (but) I don’t see how it’s possible not to vote for an impeachment.”She’s not alone, of course, but her words are just the latest gut punch to Schumer’s claims that the Senate should turn into some episode of Perry Mason. Even Schumer himself said back in 1998 that the Senate is “not like a jury.”The days of Pelosi being hailed as some next-level genius impeachment strategist I guess will have to come to an end for the liberal pundit industry. Her plan to withhold the articles of impeachment to create that “leverage” over McConnell failed spectacularly. No Republicans were harmed, pressured, or otherwise inconvenienced in the making of this sad, sad film.
Under the rules pushed by McConnell, same as for Clinton, the US Senate will begin the impeachment trial by listening to presentations from the House managers and the President’s lawyers. Then there will be a question and answer period for senators to get information from the presenters.And then the Senate can decide what it wants to do about witnesses. Maybe they will want to hear from some. Maybe they won’t. Even if they do, don’t bet on a quick resolution. No matter what former National Security Adviser John Bolton says about being willing to testify under subpoena from the Senate, it is likely the White House would invoke executive privilege to try to prevent his testimony.What’s more, if he’s so interested in telling his story now, why does he need to wait for a subpoena? Bolton could simply write down everything he knows and send it to Congress right now if he wanted. But he hasn’t done that, I suspect because he wants the appearance of looking like he wants to talk without the actual responsibility of doing it.
Bolton’s announcement won’t change McConnell’s thinking on how to process this impeachment, and underscores what a blunder it was for Pelosi and Adam Schiff to have failed to subpoena Bolton in the first place.And now McConnell has exposed them for what they are — desperate partisans who aren’t interested in using impeachment the way the founders intended, but rather as just another tactic to be deployed in the hopes of trapping some Republican senator in a vote that can be used in an attack ad.They failed to convince a single Republican in the House that impeachment was necessary. They failed to pressure Mitch McConnell’s conference to do their homework for them.
And they will fail to remove President Trump from office when all is said and done, instead delivering him to a perch of exoneration from which he will bludgeon them for weeks.This could not have gone more poorly if the Democrats had tried. Any Republican senator on the ballot this year knows it would be suicide to join Pelosi or Schumer’s hapless crusade now. Better to let the people decide Trump’s fate in November than allow the Washington partisans to try in January.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats behind closed doors Tuesday that the she would continue to hold the passed articles of impeachment back from the upper chamber until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered details on how a trial will be conducted.
Pelosi’s comments as reported by the Washington Post showcase the Democrats’ latest power grab to bend the impeachment proceedings in the Senate to their will demanding the testimony of new witnesses.
After the House passed two articles of impeachment, one for abuse of power and one for obstruction of Congress by an almost uniform partisan vote, Pelosi announced she would be withholding the articles from moving forward to the Senate.
Pelosi’s decision to bring a halt to the impeachment process comes as Democrats aim to amp up pressure on Republicans to conduct the trial in the Senate on the Democrats’ terms even after operating an unfair process rushed in the House.
The impeachment proceedings lodged against President Donald Trump were kicked off by an anonymous whistleblower complaint alleging Trump conspired with the Ukrainian president to interfere in the next U.S. presidential election. The complaint, marked credible and urgent by the intelligence community inspector general but not by the Department of National Intelligence sparked rampant speculation by impeachment-hungry Democrats and the mainstream media as a smoking gun to end the Trump presidency.
Soon after knowledge of the complaint surfaced in the media however, the White House declassified and released an unredacted transcript of the July 25 phone call in question under the complaint between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Democrats have tried incessantly to paint the call as damning evidence illustrating that Trump invited Ukraine to get involved in the next election by investigating the Biden family in exchange for nearly $400 million in military aid. The withheld aid was ultimately released without a Ukrainian investigation.
In reality, a true and honest reading of the transcript exposes an American president urging the Ukrainian leader to root out corruption in the eastern European nation and requesting that Zelensky investigate the origins of Ukraine’s peddling of the Russian collusion hoax in the United States.
In more than two months of rushed proceedings, Democrats failed to unearth evidence worth of a “high crime and misdemeanor,” that warrants the extreme measure of impeachment despite the entire process run in the lower chamber being slanted to disadvantage Republicans. To the contrary, the Democrats’ own witnesses exonerated Trump of any wrongdoing regarding Ukraine.
Democrats impeached the president anyway, and now Democrats are demanding the Senate call additional witnesses to prolong the process and find the incriminating evidence to oust Trump from the Oval Office. Incriminating evidence will be hard to find however, as the House hearings exposed to the public, there isn’t any.
Pelosi’s present play to prohibit the process from moving onward has further undercut the entire premise of a rushed procedure in the House, which sought to remove the president from office as quick as possible citing Trump’s hold on power as an urgent threat to the survival of the republic.
McConnell has made clear his desire for a fair and quick trial in the Senate and has pushed back on Democratic demands to call more witnesses to prolong a process that has been a sham from the start launched in a desperate effort to reverse the results of the 2016 election.
Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham proposedchanging the Senate rules regarding impeachment altogether to remove Pelosi from the process and begin the trial proceedings without the House speaker’s approval.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, joined by a dozen Republican senators has proposed dismissing the impeachment trial altogether.
Knowledge can be found at all ages, and in all places. And ethics has nothing to do with degrees or pedigrees.
The Washington Post recently published a surprising indictment of MSNBC host, Stanford graduate, and Rhodes scholar Rachel Maddow.
Post media critic Erik Wemple wrote that Maddow deliberately misled her audience by claiming the now-discredited Steele dossier was largely verifiable — even at a time when there was plenty of evidence that it was mostly bogus.
At the very time Maddow was reassuring viewers that Christopher Steele was believable, populist talk radio and the much-criticized Fox News Channel were insisting that most of Steele’s allegations simply could not be true. Maddow was wrong. Her less-degreed critics proved to be right.
In 2018, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), and the committee’s then-ranking minority member, Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), each issued contrasting reports of the committee’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign team and the misbehavior of federal agencies.
Schiff’s memo was widely praised by the media. Nunes’s report was condemned as rank and partisan.
Many in the media went further. They contrasted Harvard Law graduate Schiff with rural central Californian Nunes to help explain why the clever Schiff got to the bottom of collusion and the “former dairy farmer” Nunes was “way over his head” and had “no idea what’s going on.”
Recently, the nonpartisan inspector general of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, found widespread wrongdoing at the DOJ and FBI. He confirmed the key findings in the Nunes memo about the Steele dossier and its pernicious role in the FISA application seeking a warrant against former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page.
In contrast, much of what the once-praised Schiff had claimed to be true was proven wrong by Horowitz — from Schiff’s insistence that the FBI verified the Steele dossier to his assertion that the Department of Justice did not rely chiefly on the dossier for its warrant application.
When special counsel Robert Mueller formed an investigatory team, he stocked it with young, progressive Washington insiders, many with blue-chip degrees and résumés.
The media swooned. Washington journalists became giddy over the prospect of a “dream team” of such “all-stars” who would demolish the supposedly far less impressively credentialed Trump legal team.
We were assured by a snobbish Vox: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team is full of pros. Trump’s team makes typos.”
Yet after 22 months and $32 million worth of investigation, Mueller’s team found no Russian collusion and no evidence of actionable Trump obstruction during the investigation of that non-crime. All the constant media reports that “bombshell” Mueller team disclosures were imminent and that the “walls are closing in” on Trump proved false.
Mueller himself testified before Congress, only to appear befuddled and almost clueless at times about his own investigation. Many of his supposedly brightest all-stars, such as Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, and Kevin Clinesmith, had to leave his dream team due to unethical behavior.
In contrast, Trump’s widely derided chief lawyers — 69-year-old Ty Cobb, 78-year-old John Dowd, and 63-year-old radio and TV host Jay Sekulow — stayed out of the headlines. They advised Trump to cooperate with the Mueller team and systematically offered evidence and analyses to prove that Trump did not collude with the Russian to warp the 2016 election. In the end, Mueller’s “hunter-killer team” was forced to agree.
When the supposed clueless Trump was elected, a number of elites pronounced his economic plans to be absurd. We were told that Trump was bound to destroy the U.S. economy.
Former Princeton professor and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman insisted that Trump would crash the stock market. He even suggested that stocks might never recover.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Trump would bring on a recession within a year and a half.
The former head of the National Economic Council, Steven Rattner, predicted a market crash of “historic proportions.”
In contrast, many of Trump’s economic advisers during his campaign and administration, including outsider Peter Navarro, pundit Steven Moore, former TV host Larry Kudlowm and octogenarian Wilbur Ross, were caricatured.
Yet three years later, in terms of the stock market, unemployment, energy production and workers’ wages, the economy has been doing superbly.
The point of these sharp contrasts is not that an Ivy League degree or a Washington reputation is of little value, or that prestigious prizes and honors account for nothing, or even that supposed experts are always unethical and silly.
Instead, one lesson is that conventional wisdom and groupthink tend to mislead, especially in the age of online echo chambers and often sheltered and blinkered elite lives.
We forget that knowledge can be found at all ages, and in all places. And ethics has nothing to do with degrees or pedigrees.
No one can be sure what her intent is. I’m not sure she even knows but her decision to wait before transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate is setting a bad precedent that puts politics ahead of the U.S. Constitution.
For all the work that’s gone into addressing the charges against President Donald Trump, it’s hard to argue they rise to the level of impeachable offenses. The charge of obstruction of Congress could just as easily be presented as a justifiable defense of executive power for which ample precedent exists. The allegation he abused the power of his office is likewise flawed. While U.S. policy toward Ukraine is legitimately a subject for congressional oversight it is hardly the stuff of which previous presidents were threatened with removal from office.
Remember, early on, how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opined on the gravity of impeachment and the need for bipartisanship? She got the latter at least, but not as she hoped. It was the Democrats who split their votes. Not a single Republican voted for impeachment. Three Democrats did along with Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard, who wants to be president and who voted “Present.”
Oklahoma Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, a cool-headed senior member of the House of Representatives, may have put it best when he recently tweeted: “After running a totally partisan and closed impeachment process in the House, [Pelosi] now wants an open and bipartisan process in the Senate? That is the height of political hypocrisy!”
He’s right. The process leading to the president’s impeachment was manifestly unfair, with the minority party in Congress’s right to mount a defense of the president routinely impeded by the process the Democrats devised.
Now Pelosi is sitting on her hands, waiting for Senate to approve rules for a trial to which she can agree because they will be, as she put it, “fair.” She’s entitled to her opinion, one supposes, but she’s failing to carry out her duties as leader of the House by doing so. She’s also creating a problem she’s not aware of for, if Harvard’s Noah Feldman is right and the president is not deemed to have been impeached until the articles are forwarded to the Senate, why should anyone be planning for a trial? Wouldn’t that be premature?
Democrats hoped the Mueller Report would show collusion with the Russians but that went nowhere. They had to settle for an innovative interpretation of a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The Democrats allege Trump proposed a quid pro quo—military aid for Ukraine in exchange for a public announcement of an investigation into alleged corruption by Hunter Biden and, by extension, his father, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden who, the polls suggest, is most likely to be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
It’s a stretch, but the case was made anyway even though both Trump and Zelenskiy deny any such arrangement was ever on the table. And without the Democrats willing even to acknowledge the younger Biden’s paid membership on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his father was the point man for the U.S. government on Ukraine policy looks suspicious. Even the elder Biden has a hard time grappling with the question when it’s been put to him. But who among us won’t say, at least in their heart of hearts, that payments of a million dollars a year to the well-connected son of an important U.S politician by an energy company operating in a country with all the political integrity of Chicago, Illinois isn’t worth looking into?
What Pelosi wants is at least one more bite at the apple, maybe more. Her minions have been trying to impeach the president for most of his administration. The votes taken just prior to Christmas on articles of impeachment were not the first and, if you can believe what’s being said over the holiday recess, may not be the last. As Politico is reporting, “The House is open to the prospect of impeaching President Donald Trump a second time, lawyers for the Judiciary Committee said Monday.”
Will it ever end? Probably not. Just as Bill Clinton gave us what came to be called “the permanent campaign,” Nancy Pelosi and her allies are giving America “the permanent impeachment.” For all her high-minded talk about the gravity of the situation and the steps being taken by the House, she’s messing around with the Constitution while trying to overturn the results of the last election and influence the outcome of the next. She might succeed, at least as far as the latter effort is concerned, but not in the way she intends.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s threat to withhold impeachment articles from the Senate upended the procedures spelled out in the Constitution and threw Capitol Hill into deeper partisan turmoil Thursday.
Republicans balked that the speaker was “afraid” of a Senate trial that is all but assured to acquit President Trump and potentially discredit the House’s party-line impeachment vote.
The day after Mrs. Pelosi’s Democrats impeached Mr. Trump on two counts — the first impeachment in U.S. history to have no bipartisan support — she cut off reporters’ impeachment questions at her weekly press conference.
“No one is above the law and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. No one is above the law and this president has been held accountable,” the California Democrat said.
She then explained that she did not know when the House would take the next steps in the process of sending the two impeachment articles to the Senate, where the Constitution dictates the impeached president will stand trial and face removal from office.
The Constitution requires that the Senate “shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.”
And yet Mrs. Pelosi said the House would not name the impeachment managers who argue the case in the Senate or send the articles over until she was satisfied that the Republican-run upper chamber would conduct what she called “a fair trial.”
Asked about Republican complaints that she was “playing games” with impeachment, Mrs. Pelosibecome adamant.
“I was not prepared to put the managers in that bill yet because we don’t know the arena that we are in. Frankly, I don’t care what the Republicans say,” she told the gathering of reporters before refusing any further impeachment questions.
Other House Democrats, including members of the leadership team, said they were prepared to delay indefinitely the articles of impeachment until Mr. McConnell provided the assurances they want on the trial.
“We would be crazy to walk in there knowing he set up a kangaroo court,” House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, told CNN.
Claire Finkelstein, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, suggested the House could continue to gather evidence while withholding the articles.
House Democrats could use the time to keep pursuing court action to force testimony from White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, former National Security Advisor John Bolton and former White House Counsel Don McGahn, she said.
However, the Justice Department immediately filed a court brief arguing that Democrats’ legal battle to compel testimony from Mr. McGahn should be tossed out now that Mr. Trump has been impeached.
“The committee’s primary asserted need for subpoenaing McGahn — his potential testimony related to an obstruction-of-justice impeachment charge — appears to be moot,” Justice Department lawyers wrote.
“They said impeachment was so urgent that it could not even wait for due process but now they’re content to sit on their hands. It is comical,” he said on the chamber floor.
Mr. Trump weighed in by saying Mrs. Pelosi’s gamesmanship was bad for the country.
“Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up! The Do Nothings are so bad for our Country!” the president tweeted.
The House impeached Mr. Trump on two counts, abuse of power and obstructing Congress.
The impeachment stemmed from Mr. Trump asking Ukraine for “a favor” in investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter, who is linked to Ukraine energy company in that graft-riddled country.
Mr. Trump is accused of withholding $391 million in military aid from Ukraine and a prized White House visit for the Ukrainian president as leverage to get the investigation announced.
It was unclear how, or even whether, a delay would pressure the Senate to adopt Democrat-friendly procedures for a trial. The move also appeared to run afoul of the Constitution, effectively nullifying the House impeachment vote.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, welcomed Mrs. Pelosi’s delay tactic.
“Her threat to the Senate is: Do exactly what I want or I’m not going to impeach the president, I’m not going to send over the impeachment articles,” he told Fox News. “My attitude is, ‘OK, throw us in that brier patch. Don’t send them. That’s all right. We actually have work to do.’”
Mr. McConnell said the Democrat-run House produced a “shoddy” impeachment work product, rushed through a 12-week impeachment inquiry and refused to go to court to enforce subpoenas for White House documents and testimony by administration officials.
He noted that the impeachment investigations into President Richard Nixon and President Bill Clinton both lasted more than a year.
“Democrats’ own actions concede that their allegations are unproven,” he said.
Mr. McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, met Thursday to begin negotiating the rules and procedures for the hearing. They were not expected to nail down the details beyond setting a possible start date, but the two men did not get that far and remain at an impasse.
Mr. Schumer has demanded live testimony from witnesses during the trial, saying more evidence should be presented. Republicans refused, saying the standard set in the impeachment trial against Mr. Clinton should be applied to Mr. Trump.
In 1998, the two sides agreed to hear from the House impeachment managers and then from the president’s legal team before deciding whether to call witnesses. Mr. McConnell said the process worked for the Democrats back then, and it should work for Mr. Trump, too.
Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law, said there is no requirement as to when the House must transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
“There is no obligation to actually transmit the articles. She would do this to indefinitely wound Trump, and avoid a trial the [Democrats] will lose,” Mr. Blackman said.
Over at The Bulwark, Tim Miller more or less pleads for Democrats to start acting like they mean it when they claim President Trump is a unique danger to American values.
He writes: “I have the sneaking suspicion that a lot of Democrats don’t actually view Trump as a unique crisis. Or rather: They don’t view him as being more than a difference in degree from the “emergency-crisis” Republicans always represent. For these Democrats, all of Republican/conservatism has been inevitably leading to Trump and the only difference between Trump and, say, George H.W. Bush, is that Trump says the quiet part out loud.”
If we want a better politics and more effective government, political leaders and activists will need to rediscover the ability to differentiate among their opponents on the other side of the aisle. From the perspective of conservatives, American politics was better when the Democratic Leadership Council was pushing for ideas like welfare reform, charter schools, public school choice, and middle-class tax cuts in that party. From the perspective of liberals, American politics was better when the Republican Main Street Partnership was a more significant force in the GOP, pushing for the most pragmatic options and trying to find policy solutions that wouldn’t freak out soccer moms. While you may want to defeat as many of the opposing party’s candidates as possible in November, you’re probably going to have to work with some of them after the elections. If the Trump presidency offers any lesson for the country, it’s that once everybody’s considered to be as bad as the devil, then nobody is treated like they’re as bad as the devil.
HBO host Bill Maher realized the mistake on the eve of the 2016 election: “I know liberals made a big mistake because we attacked your boy [George W.] Bush like he was the end of the world. And he wasn’t. And Mitt Romney we attacked that way. I gave Obama a million dollars because I was so afraid of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wouldn’t have changed my life that much or yours. Or John McCain. They were honorable men who we disagreed with and we should have kept it that way. So we cried wolf and that was wrong. But this is real. This is going to be way different.”
This Democratic presidential primary has been fascinating to watch from the perspective of the Right, because every once in a while, one of the trailing candidates makes a point that leaves conservatives nodding their heads. Tulsi Gabbard acknowledges some moral complexity on the issue of abortion and vents frustration with American overseas military operations that never seem to end satisfactorily, Marianne Williamson warns of an intangible but real crisis in the country’s spiritual health, and Andrew Yang seems like a bright guy who’s thought long and hard about the ramifications of growing automation in our economy. Conservatives are extremely unlikely to vote for those candidates, but you can see room for a productive dialogue. A Republican president who had to work with a Democratic House of Representatives full of Gabbards, Williamsons, and Yangs could probably reach a lot of compromises and productive agreements.
Meanwhile, much more prominent and influential Democratic figures keep acting like once a Democrat is in the White House again, they’ll never need to compromise with Republicans. They keep offering magic wand solutions that ignore every likely obstacle — wrangling a diverse House caucus, getting a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, injunctions from federal courts, a Supreme Court decision that the idea violates the Constitution.
The progressive left demands cultural changes, putting conservatives on the defense. It's never conservatives throwing the first punch.
A recent Voxsplainer aimed at breaking down the “War Against Thanksgiving” to bespectacled urbanites referred, mostly in passing, to the “culture war-stoking conservative media.” This is adorable, and for two particular reasons.
First, because its matter-of-fact presentation demonstrates how deeply this notion is embedded as conventional wisdom on the center-left. Second, because it’s so obviously stupid.
Of course, it’s the Fox-guzzling conservative rubes stoking the culture war, those reactionary pitchfork wielders who burn Howard Zinn books and listen to Blake Shelton sing about trucks. Or perhaps it’s the fault of cynical Beltway operators who exploit the anxieties of Flyover simpletons for profit and power.
The “culture-war stoking conservative media” is a liberal trope because it neatly comports to basic elite stereotypes about conservatism as a misguided ideology of blind rage and ignorance. The culture war itself is seen as a lowbrow battleground for reactionaries and the Brooks-Brothers elites who mine their concerns for clicks.
This brings me to the second reason Vox’s descriptor is amusing. The progressive movement is waging this war on culture by its own admission. By the essence of their mission and the definition of their moniker, progressives are on offense. There would be no cultural battles were it not for changes demanded by the left. Those of us so-called “culture war-stoking” conservatives in media are on defense. Almost always.
We focus heavily on culture because it’s what our audience finds useful. It’s what our audience finds useful because they, too, are on defense—and that’s because the left is focused even more heavily on culture. This kind of coverage is entirely a response to the left’s broad and deliberate cultural offensive, which honest progressives should fully own. The left raises proposals (or demands, more often) for cultural change. In response, we stand athwart history yelling “Stop!” (Or we’re supposed to, at least.)
Of course, media conservatives are blamed for stoking the flames of a culture war because center-left elites wouldn’t dare admit their own hands have been dirtied by something so asinine and lowbrow. Yet, curiously, they own all of these politicized initiatives to alter the culture. But you can’t have it both ways.
For instance, are the conservatives who cover transgender bathrooms stoking the culture war by virtue of their coverage, or is it the folks who introduced the idea and are seeking aggressively to normalize it? Again, to an honest progressive, the answer should be easy: the culture is oppressive and they are waging a righteous war against it.
Consider awards season, which regularly produces a stream of contrived liberal broadsides. I love Meryl Streep, but it was her choice to pit popular sports against “the arts,” echoing the snobbishness that drove voters to Donald Trump. She did the stoking, conservative media simply responded. When Sean Spicer was cast on “Dancing with the Stars,” conservative media’s coverage was provoked entirely by the left’s complaints.
As for the “War on Christmas,” an admittedly dramatic designation, it isn’t exactly conservative Christians pushing to secularize the holiday, and the push to secularize the holiday absolutely exists. Is conservative media sometimes guilty of framing cultural conflict in hyperbolic terms? Of course. But, often, what looks like hyperbole to elites—who cheer many sweeping progressive initiatives—sounds pitch perfect to conservative bystanders watching their world get turned upside down. You can go down the line on these issues, from the national anthem to comedy to statues of Thomas Jefferson to Taylor Swift, it’s never conservatives throwing the first punch.
Even the aforementioned Vox article, headlined “Trump’s made-up war on Thanksgiving, explained,” gently undermines its own contention about the culture war. In a subheading titled “It’s not a bad idea to give Thanksgiving a think,” the author suggests using Thanksgiving as a time to “[consider]” the plight of the Native American community, which is perfectly reasonable idea, but certainly calls for change. It’s also perfectly reasonable for conservatives to counter that suggestion by arguing the holiday would be better spent focusing on our “social and domestic ties,” as Sarah Hale proposed so many years ago. Either way, the would-be change agents aren’t coming from the right.
Whatever is happening with Thanksgiving is nothing compared to wars being waged on other cultural fronts. And it’s not a war being “stoked” by conservative media, but by the left. To believe otherwise is to undermine the entire progressive project.
A rare and special joy is watching a left-winger get red-pilled in real-time, in public, right before all our eyes. This seems to be the case with Marianne Williamson.
The term “red-pilling” is often bandied about on social media, frequently by people who have no idea what it means—or take it to mean “red” in the sense of Republican red states. The concept comes from the documentary “The Matrix,” and is defined in my book as “demonstrating to someone that what is presented as fact by the corporate press and entertainment industries is only (at best) a shadow of what is real, that this supposed reality is in fact a carefully constructed narrative intentionally designed to keep some very unpleasant people in power and to keep everyone else tame and submissive.”
Given the overwhelmingly hard-left agenda within corporate media, red-pilling far more frequently occurs on the right hand of the political spectrum. Yet there are plenty of red-pilled leftists as well, voice like Glenn Greenwald and Michael Tracey, who have no problem slamming outlets like The New York Times for what can charitably be described as malfeasance.
A rare and special joy is watching a left-winger get red-pilled in real-time, in public, right before all our eyes. This seems to be the case with quixotic Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.
It’s hard not to like Williamson. She became a social media darling after her debut at the June 27 Democratic debate, where some of her responses seemed like utter non sequiturs.
When the candidates were asked by moderator Chuck Todd, “What is that first issue you are going to push?” as president, Williamson replied: “My first call is to the prime minister of New Zealand who said that her goal is to make New Zealand the best place in the world for a child in the world to grow up. And I will tell her, ‘Girlfriend, you are so on, because the United States of America is going to be the best place in the world for a child to grow up.’”
One can only imagine a jubilant President Williamson slamming down the phone, while in the middle of the night in Wellington a befuddled Prime Minister Ardern stares at the receiver listening to a dial tone: “Hello?…Madame President?…Hello, are you there?…Marianne, was that really you?”
We live in a time where “secular” saints like Greta Thunberg berate us from our televisions, and we are expected to regard the tantrums of hysterical teenagers as not only of interest but as sources of guidance and wisdom: “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean!” I’m old enough to remember how Willy Wonka handled such Verucas Salt. Yet for every lefty Thunberg, there are many genuine saints among the bleeding hearts of the left, and Williamson appears to be one of those.
Williamson’s “A Politics of Love” was published this past April, and testifies she is a genuinely kind-hearted person interested in bettering lives (or a sociopath who is good at passing). She recounts how one of her students asked her: “Aren’t you just an aging hippie?” and does not seem to shy away from the label. Williamson comes to politics from activism, but an activism based on gathering results rather than social-media attention.
If someone is interested in helping those in need at a local level, a volunteer’s political association falls almost entirely by the wayside. When there are sick people who need food, the questions become “Can you cook?” “Do you have a car to deliver the meals?” “Can you call donors to raise money?” not “Do you think gun laws are inherently unconstitutional?” or “Do you think overseas warmongering lead to blowback here?”
Williamson’s book begins memorializing life and death in the time of AIDS, much like Cynthia Carr did so well in “Fire in the Belly,” her masterpiece biography of artist and activist David Wojnarowicz (1954-92). “I began lecturing on A Course in Miracles, a book of spiritual psychology, in 1983,” she writes. “I remember saying over and over, at lecture after lecture and support group after support group, ‘There doesn’t have to be a cure for AIDS for it to become a chronic, manageable condition. There isn’t a cure for diabetes, but it’s a manageable condition!’ We survived on that hope, articulating it over and over with tears in our eyes.”
Although Williamson constantly mentions “miracles” in her books and interviews, having realistic hope can be wonderfully inspirational. Telling a homeless person he can get to a mansion is an absurdity. Telling him he can get to an apartment with four housemates is a possibility.
During the debates Williamson failed to mention that she founded Project Angel Food 30 years ago. It’s an organization dedicated to feeding, free of charge, people living with AIDS when it was a far more serious and stigmatized condition than it is today. Her reward for this has been animus and vitriol from those who should ostensibly on her side.
The uniquely repellent Samantha “there is no smug liberal problem” Bee publicly called on Williamson to end her presidential campaign. “I am so loving your vibe,” Bee sneered, “so I wanted to invite you over to my show for a very chill, very serious dropout campaign dropout party.”
Williamson’s reaction was to this and other such moments of alleged wit was caught on a hot-mic moment: “What does it say that Fox News is nicer to me than the lefties are?” she mused. “What does it say that the conservatives are nicer to me?…You know, I’m such a lefty. I mean, I’m a serious lefty…I didn’t think the left was as mean as the right, they are.”
Early last week, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard dropped what was essentially a red pill on the Democratic field, explicitly saying, “The 2016 Democratic primary election was rigged by the DNC and their partners in the corporate media against Bernie Sanders.” Not biased, but rigged. Not “Fox News,” but “corporate media.” Gabbard claimed to be considering boycotting the debate.
Williamson—who did not meet the debate criteria—agreed with Gabbard’s assessment. “I have great respect for Tulsi for saying such inconvenient truth,” Williamson tweeted. “She is absolutely correct.”
One of the ways orthodox progressives get their agenda across is using the corporate press to give the impression that all decent, right-thinking people agree with them. For this to be true, one would have to accept that Williamson is indecent, and the average corporate journalist is. One would have to accept the blue pill.
To listen to most Democrats, they’ve got President Trump on the run when it comes to immigration.
The “big beautiful” wall he promised to build along the border with Mexico hasn’t gone up, and House Democrats will no longer fund even the border-security projects they supported in the past. Federal courts have also been preventing Team Trump from pushing through its efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants, let alone to attempt to fix a broken asylum system gamed by economic migrants from Central America who don’t fit the traditional definition of refugees fleeing for their lives.
But anyone who believes sanctuary-movement backers and Dems seeking to decriminalize illegal immigration are beating the president needs a reality check.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled to permit the administration to go on refusing to accept applications for asylum from migrants who have passed through another country without being denied asylum there, while a case challenging this common-sense policy works its way through the courts.
That comes on the heels of the court’s decision in July to allow Trump to use money from the defense budget to build the border wall. It was yet another significant victory for the administration’s initiatives and a sign that the left’s judicial guerrilla war that had been stymieing the president is starting to crumble.
Expect liberal efforts to prevent Trump from overturning President Barack Obama’s executive orders that effectively granted amnesty to millions of illegals to meet the same fate.
Fact is, despite the beating Trump has continued to take from the media about government tactics aimed at stemming the surge of illegal immigrants over the southern border, his policies have started to show signs of success.
While no one expects Mexico to pay for Trump’s wall, it is doing something more important: using its resources to stop its people from crossing over into the United States illegally. It has, for example, reinforced security on its southern border and set up checkpoints on highways leading north, dispatching 21,600 police and troops across the nation in the effort.
So far in 2019, the US Border Patrol has arrested more than 400,000 migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras for crossing the border illegally. But only 4,300 Mexicans were caught doing so.
It’s all strong evidence that, far from ignoring or rejecting Trump’s efforts to jawbone them into doing something to stop the flood of illegals, America’s most important southern neighbor is listening to him. Recall that Mexico stepped up actions to control the migrants in a bid to avoid tariffs Trump had threatened to impose.
The message has also gotten through to those seeking to come to the United States illegally. Mexican officials have said there has been a “significant decrease” in the number of Central Americans entering their country this year for the purpose of illegally immigrating to the United States.
It makes sense. The campaign by Obama and other Democrats to grant amnesty and a wide array of benefits to illegal immigrants fueled the surge across the border, with new migrants seeking the same lenient treatment. That led to the crisis in which federal resources were overwhelmed by the sheer number of asylum-seekers, prompting much grandstanding and crocodile tears from the left.
Trump’s critics have libelously denounced his attempts to enforce the law — and restore order at the border — as reminiscent of the Nazis and evidence of racism. Yet those efforts seem to be having the intended effect on those contemplating coming here without permission.
With the courts recognizing Trump’s right to use his power to protect the border and with Mexico now cooperating with the United States, perhaps there’s a chance to break the long deadlock over immigration in Washington.
Of course, everyone knows America’s immigration system is badly broken, but Democrats, who hope they will win control of both Congress and the White House next year, have prevented a compromise that would allow the so-called “Dreamers” to stay in the country in exchange for the building of a border wall. So a fix may have to wait until after the 2020 election.
But no matter who wins next year, Trump has shown that, his intemperate rhetoric on the issue not withstanding, strict enforcement policies combined with the help of both the Supreme Court and the Mexicans can provide a way forward to fix an illegal-immigration problem that has long seemed insoluble.
Column: How the left uses corporate America to evade democracy
Time was, CEOs of mighty enterprises shied away from politics, especially hot-button social and cultural issues. They focused instead on the bottom line. They maximized shareholder value by delivering goods and services to customers. Some businessmen still operate by this principle. In doing so they provide not only for their employees and CEOs and board members but also for the institutions—pensions, individual retirement plans, index funds, hospitals, philanthropies—invested in their companies.
That is no longer enough for many of America’s richest and most powerful. Suddenly, corporate America has a conscience. Every week brings new examples of CEOs intervening in political, cultural, and social debate. In every instance, the prominent spokesmen for American business situate themselves comfortably on the left side of the political spectrum. Shareholder capitalism finds itself under attack. Not just from socialism but also from woke capitalism.
These outbursts are not just virtue signaling. Nor is the left-wing tilt of corporate America merely a response to the “rising American electorate” of Millennial, Gen Z, and minority consumers. What is taking place is not a business story but a political one. What is known as “stakeholder capitalism” is another means by which elites circumvent democratic accountability.
Corporate managers find themselves at odds with at least 46 percent of the electorate. The divergence is not over jobs or products. It is over values. The global economy generates social inequalities as much as economic ones. Many of the winners of the global economy justify their gains by adopting the rhetoric, tastes, ideas, and affiliations of their cultural milieu. Their environment is inescapably center left.
Even so, the social justice agenda of corporate America is not only meant to appease voters, or even to placate Elizabeth Warren. Some of these businessmen really believe what they are saying. And they are beginning to understand that they have another way—through social position and market share—to impose their cultural priorities on a disagreeable public.
The trend began as a response to the Tea Party. In 2010 the “Patriotic Millionaires” began advocating for higher marginal tax rates. A few years later, when state legislatures passed laws opposed by pro-choice and LGBT groups, corporations threatened or waged economic boycotts. Large individual donations made up more than half of Hillary Clinton’s fundraising; for Donald Trump the number was 14 percent.
CEOs protested the implementation of President Trump’s travel ban in 2017. The following year, after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, Howard Schultz closed stores nationwide so his more than 175,000 employees could be trained in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Earlier this summer, Nike pulled shoes featuring the Betsy Ross flag after Colin Kaepernick raised objections. Recently four major auto companies struck a deal with the state of California to preserve fuel economy standards the Trump administration opposes.
Business has provided ideological justification for its activities. In mid-August, a group of 181 members of the Business Roundtable, including the CEOs of Morgan Stanley, GM, Apple, and Amazon, issued a statement redefining the purpose of a corporation. “Generating long-term value for shareholders” is necessary but insufficient. In the words of Jamie Dimon, business must “push for an economy that serves all Americans.” A few weeks later, one of the Business Roundtable signatories, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, announced that America’s largest retailer would end sales of ammunition for handguns and for some rifles. Once its current inventory is exhausted, of course.
“We encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger,” McMillon wrote. “We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness.” Note the use of the first-person plural. Of Walmart’s 1.5 million employees, more than a few, one assumes, do not believe it is necessary to “strengthen background checks” or debate “the Assault Weapons ban.”
To whom does the “we” in McMillon’s statement refer? To everyone who thinks like he does.
“You have a business acting in a more enlightened and more agile way than government,” is how one MSNBC contributor enthusiastically describedWalmart’s directive. Left unsaid is why government has not, in this case, been “enlightened” or “agile.” The reason is constitutional democracy. The electorate, like it or not, continues to put into office representatives opposed to gun registration and to a renewal of the Assault Weapons ban. And these representatives, in turn, have confirmed judges who believe the Second Amendment is just as important to self-government as the First and Fourteenth.
Much of Western politics for the last decade has involved elites figuring out new ways to ignore or thwart the voting public. Barack Obama was following in the EU’s footsteps when he went ahead with Obamacare despite Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts in January 2010, and when he expanded his DACA program to the parents of illegal immigrants brought here as children despite Republican gains in the 2014 election and despite his own admission that he lacked authority.
James Comey’s towering ego and self-regard compelled him to interfere in the 2016 election with consequences we can only begin to reckon. Over the last two-and-a-half years, district judges and anonymous bureaucrats have impeded and obstructed the agenda of a duly elected chief executive. A few weeks ago a former governor of the Federal Reserve suggested in Bloomberg that the central bank should thwart Trump’s reelection. And in England, elite resistance to the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum and to the 2017 parliamentary invocation of Article 50 has brought the government into a crisis from which there seems no escape.
In such an environment, one begins to see the appeal of nongovernmental instruments of power. What might be rejected at the ballot box can be achieved through “nudging” in the market and in the third sector. If you can’t enact national gun control through Congress, why not leverage the economic and cultural weight of America’s largest corporations? The market, we are told, is not a democracy.
Oh, but it is. The market may be the ultimate democracy. “The picture of the prettiest girl that ever lived,” wrote Joseph Schumpeter, “will in the long run prove powerless to maintain the sales of a bad cigarette.” Woke capitalists remain accountable to consumers and to shareholders. The audiences of ESPN and of the NFL cratered when those institutions elevated politics over consumer demand. Hollywood’s anti-American offerings routinely flop. Public opinion, in the form of popular taste, rules. Shareholders of publicly traded companies are a type of electorate. The companies that do not satisfy customers will disappear. Or shareholders will demand changes to management to prevent such an outcome.
The politicization of firms is a double-edged sword. The responsible stakeholder CEOs may have the best of intentions. They might assume they are doing the right things not only by their companies but also by their societies. What they fail to understand is that corporations acting as surrogates of one element of society, or of one political party, will not be treated as neutral by other elements, by the other party. By believing their superior attitudes will save capitalism, our right-thinking elites are undermining its very legitimacy, and increasing the severity of the ongoing populist revolt.
Why ban BDS supporters?
Israel’s decision to ban Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country is, while controversial, the right one. Yes, America is Israel’s foremost ally and members of Congress, the elected representatives of the American people, must always be respected.
Like America, Israel is a nation of laws, and the democratically elected government adopted a law in 2017 which prohibits the entry into Israel of any foreigner who makes a “public call for boycotting Israel” or “any area under its control.” This includes proponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS).
Why ban BDS supporters?
The answer is that their objective is the destruction of Israel. They make no secret of this goal. As As’ad AbuKhali has said,” “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”
Who said that Israel is obligated to invite people into the country who seek its destruction?
Since entering Congress just a few months ago, and in the years before, Omar and Tlaib have waged war against Israel and the Jewish people. They have made disgustingly anti-Semitic comments, including accusations that the Jewish people are not loyal to the United States but to Israel; that the Jewish people buy politicians with their money; that Israel hypnotizes the world with its evil actions, and that Israel is an apartheid occupier which must be boycotted.
We can only assume that what Omar and Tlaib would be doing in Israel is simply inciting and inflaming the Palestinian population, or at the very least trying to visit upon Israel the most negative possible media coverage in order to delegitimize the Middle East’s only democracy before the eyes of the world.
Israel does not have to prove its commitment to freedom of speech by allowing foreigners into the country who want to exploit that liberty to propagandize against the state and advocate measures to undermine its democracy. Omar and Tlaib could have asked to travel with the other 40 Democrats who recently visited Israel, but they preferred to go separately to avoid the discomfort of meeting with Israeli leaders and experiencing an Israel that does not comport with their preconceived notions. Unlike their colleagues, they were uninterested in learning about Israel; they prefer to speak from ignorance. The two were clearly out for publicity and hoped to find opportunities to embarrass the Israeli people and their government while highlighting their anti-Israel agenda.
Israel is also not unique in determining who should be allowed to enter the country. Applicants for visas to the United States, for example, are asked several questions about their political views and activities. The USA Patriot Act allows the Secretary of State to bar admission to the United States to “any alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.”
The list of people barred or excluded from the United States includes Irish politician Gerry Adams, British singers Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and Austrian diplomat Kurt Waldheim. And none of them supported movements advocating the destruction of the United States.
Israel is under constant attack, not just from terrorists, but from boycotters and others who seek to smear Israel in any way they can, via social media, mainstream media, and public relations stunts. Omar and Tlaib have every right to disparage Israel, but they cannot disguise their anti-Semitism by claiming to be merely criticizing the Israeli government. No one is silencing them, but they cannot have it both ways; they cannot promote a movement that denies the Jewish people the right to self-determination in their homeland and then complain when they are not allowed into that home.
If Israel made an exception for two promoters of BDS because they are members of Congress, it would make a mockery of the law passed by Israel’s parliament and its democratic principles. And being a member of Congress does provide license to work to destroy the world’s only Jewish state.
A recently released transcript shows just how biased the New York Times really is and how little they want to do to fix it.
This week, Slate released a transcript of a meeting held by New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and his staff. The meeting was apparently called because of reaction to a headline about Donald Trump’s speech in the wake of the El Paso shooting. But much of the meeting was concerned with something else: when and how the paper of record should use the term “racist.”
Before getting to that subject specifically, though, a few general thoughts about the meeting. As a conservative, what leaps off the page is the fact that the staffers actually seem to think the paper skews right, and they want it to skew more progressive. One staffer seemed to call on Baquet to hire radically and aggressively progressive scribe Roxanne Gay as the public editor.
This reminds me of Yankees fans who call into sports radio to say Yanks general manager Brian Cashman is bad at his job because he failed to acquire a middle reliever at the trade deadline. Forget the fact that he’s won championships and has put together a juggernaut this season, he stinks. The overwhelming majority of everything the Times prints skews left. It’s amazing that the staff doesn’t understand this. Even rare examples of conservative ideas are too much for them.
The conversation about the use of the term “racist” was telling in this respect. The underlying subtext was, “Is Donald Trump a racist?” “Are his supporters racist?” On this, all parties seemed to agree that the answer is yes — at least, nobody said no. Baquet’s objection to using the term, for which he was grilled, had less to do with whether the application is accurate than what outcome using the word would have. He worried it could make the term less powerful or turn off certain readers.
When asked specifically what standard the New York Times uses in deciding to use the term racist, Baquet said this:
You know, we actually should have a written standard. I wasn’t expecting two weeks ago — and [associate managing editor for standards] Phil [Corbett] is working with me and the masthead to come up with it. I can think of examples, like, you know, the governor — was it the governor of Virginia with the costume? I mean, it’s hard for me to answer, but yes, I do think there are instances when we would use it. It’s hard for me to articulate an example of it.
To call this vague would be generous, and it’s Ralph Northam, by the way. I recently wrote about how racism is now defined by the old Potter Stewart axiom: I know it when I see it. Well, this is what that looks like. But worse, given his remarks about how the word affects readers, it is clear Baquet is less interested in establishing a clear standard for what racism is than in bringing the paper’s readership in line with his left-leaning worldview.
As it turns out, I have a little personal experience with the New York Times and the issue of racism. Several months ago, after twice having run columns there, I pitched a piece to them about how Americans have two very different and often contradictory views of what constitutes racism. The pitch was accepted, I wrote to it, and I tried, at least, to be fair to both the conservative and progressive definitions. Generally speaking, the former being based in belief and intent, the latter on systems of oppression.
A few days later, the Times rejected the piece — which, pieces get rejected. I just ran it here at The Federalist, instead. But reading this transcript, it is absolutely clear to me that even analysis of the conservative definition would have been seen as unacceptable to at least some on the staff. Take this comment from a staffer:
I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know? Like these conversations about what is racist, what isn’t racist. I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting. And so, to me, it’s less about the individual instances of racism, and sort of how we’re thinking about racism and white supremacy as the foundation of all of the systems in the country.
What this staffer is suggesting is that in a country where a recent poll showed 51% of Americans think Trump is a racist and 45% don’t, the paper of record should simply ignore the conservative viewpoint and actually do reporting based on the opinion of the 51%.
I’ve had two conversations with high-level people at the Times about conservatism and how they cover it. On both occasions, I heard a sincere desire to do so. But I also heard a woeful lack of understanding about why conservatives are so wary of their coverage. When I brought up the hiring of Sarah Jeong, who had a history of anti-white tweets, and said that obviously such tweets about any other group would bar someone from being hired, I was told “the double standard is hard to defend.”
That’s just not good enough, and though, as I say, I think they were sincere in their desire to present conservative viewpoints, not only do they not seem to grasp them, but their staff seems to be in control of the paper’s politics.
I don’t know that there is any solution to this problem, or that even if there were, most people at the Times would want to fix it. More likely, it is simply time to accept that the New York Times is a progressive newspaper, not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, the entire concept of objective news is a rather suspect one.
I read the New York Times, I enjoy it, sometimes I do the crossword, but to the extent I ever did, I can no longer see it as a straight paper with limited bias. This transcript makes that blatantly obvious. So, by all means, read the Times. But make sure you go in with your eyes wide open.
Their falsehoods were immoral, divisive, and quite possibly unlawful.
On Friday afternoon, two of the leading contenders in the Democratic presidential primary lied. There’s no other fair way to put it. They flat-out spread fiction, libeled an innocent man, and stoked American divisions — all for political gain.
Five years ago, a Ferguson, Mo., police officer named Darren Wilson shot a young black man named Michael Brown to death after an altercation in the street. False rumors about Brown’s death — namely that he was shot in cold blood while trying to surrender with his hands in the air — ignited violent protests in Missouri and revulsion across the United States.
“Hands up, don’t shoot” became a national rallying cry — until the Obama Department of Justice comprehensively and thoroughly debunked it in a lengthy report published on March 4, 2015. Writing in December of the same year, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler called the slogan one of “the biggest Pinocchios of the year.”
But Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren ignored the Obama DOJ. They blew straight through the facts of the case and published these accusations:
Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system.3,0322:24 PM – Aug 9, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy4,925 people are talking about this
5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times. I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.36.4K2:59 PM – Aug 9, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy32.2K people are talking about this
To demonstrate just how preposterous it is to accuse Wilson of murder, it’s worth revisiting the actual facts of the case, according to the best evidence available to the investigators. On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown and a friend were walking in the middle of the street shortly after Brown had stolen cigarillos from a local market and shoved away the store clerk when he tried to intervene.
When Wilson first spotted Brown and his friend, he told them to walk on the sidewalk. He then realized that they matched the description of the theft suspects and blocked their path with his vehicle.
Wilson tried to open his door, but it either bounced off Brown or Brown slammed it shut. Brown then reached into the vehicle and started punching Wilson. As Wilson fended off the blows, he reached for his gun. Brown allegedly tried to take the gun from Wilson, and Wilson managed to get a shot off, injuring Brown in the hand. Eyewitnesses corroborated Wilson’s claims that Brown was reaching in the car, and these claims were further corroborated by “bruising on Wilson’s jaw and scratches on his neck, the presence of Brown’s DNA on Wilson’s collar, shirt, and pants, and Wilson’s DNA on Brown’s palm.”
Brown then started to run away. After a brief pause Wilson pursued, ordering Brown to stop. Brown then turned back to Wilson and started running toward him. According to the report, “several witnesses stated that Brown appeared to pose a physical threat to Wilson as he moved toward Wilson.” Wilson fired again, striking Brown several times, yet Brown kept moving toward Wilson until the final shot hit him in the head, killing him.
The report’s conclusion was crystal clear:
Given that Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of [Brown’s friend], there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat. [Emphasis added.]
The report flatly declared that Wilson “did not act with the requisite criminal intent.”
“No credible evidence” is a powerful statement, but if you read the report, it’s a powerful statement based not just on extensive forensic evidence but also on the courageous testimony of witnesses who feared reprisal for speaking the truth. One witness, a 58-year-old black male, told prosecutors that there were signs in the neighborhood that said “Snitches get stitches.” Yet he spoke the truth anyway. Other witnesses overcame their fears and spoke the truth.
How do we have confidence that they spoke the truth? Because, as the report notes, their statements “have been materially consistent, are consistent with the physical evidence, and . . . are mutually corroborative.”
To be sure, there were other witnesses. Some neither incriminated him nor fully corroborated him. And there was an entire category of witnesses whose accounts were “inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence,” the report noted, adding:
Some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible [or] otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media.
There are few more fraught issues in American public life than the question of police shootings — especially police shootings of black men. I’ve written about the issue time and time again and have come to believe not only that too many American police officers resort to deadly force too quickly but also that there is an unacceptable pro-police bias in our criminal-justice system. There is also evidence that race plays a more malignant role in policing than many of us hoped.
Indeed, while we must of course remember the DOJ’s report exonerating Darren Wilson, we should also remember that there was a second DOJ report in 2015 that found systematic misconduct at the Ferguson Police Department, misconduct that disproportionately affected Ferguson’s black citizens. I urge you to read both reports, and if you read the second report with an open mind, you’ll almost certainly come to believe that Ferguson’s black residents possessed legitimate grievances against their police department.
That’s the complicated nation we inhabit, but the complexity does not mean there aren’t simple obligations that attach to every politician, activist, and member of the media. And the simplest of those obligations is a commitment to the truth. We know that lies and falsehoods can cause riots. They can cause city blocks to burn. They can destroy a man’s life. At the very least, they can further embitter an already toxic public discourse. When issues are most fraught, the obligation of courageous, honest leadership is most imperative.
But Warren and Harris’s failure is more than a failure of leadership. The publication of a false accusation of a crime like murder is libelous under American law. In other words, their lies may well have been illegal. Democrats — especially Democrats who seek to address the very real challenges surrounding police violence in the United States — should demand better. Harris and Warren should do better. They should correct and retract their false statements. There is no excuse for their inflammatory lies.
Just as inflation can destroy a nation’s currency, so too inflation of another kind can destroy a nation’s citizenry.
I’m talking about the Democrat plot to vastly expand the voter base by first importing illegal aliens and then making it as easy as possible for them to vote — sometimes up to and including giving them legal access to state and local elections.
This, coupled with the Democrat effort to diminish trust in our elections by constantly inventing ever-more ludicrous claims of voter suppression, has resulted in a deadly attack on our national sovereignty. If people no longer believe they can trust our elections, then they will feel justified in rejecting the legitimacy of the government itself.
Sound familiar? That’s the faux justification of the resistance in rejecting loyalty to the duly elected president. Remember, according to the Democratic left, President Trump is only in office as a result of foreign interference and voter suppression. Reality doesn’t matter. In the eyes of the far left, Stacey Abrams is the governor of Georgia even though she lost the election by 50,000 votes.
Now, Democrats rarely talk about allowing illegal immigrants to vote in elections, but that is not always the case. Following the Cass Sunstein strategy of effecting transformational change in society through small incremental “nudges,” some Democrats currently call for allowing illegal aliens to vote in school and other local elections on the theory that all residents have a stake in the operation of schools and city services. Sure they do, and all illegal immigrants also have a stake in federal immigration policy, which will eventually be the argument why they should be allowed to vote in federal elections as well.
Nor can we discount the possibility of non-eligible voters participating in federal elections as long as voter ID is not mandatory. Progressives typically label as “voter suppression” any policy that requires voters to present a legal ID before voting. The claim is that Democrat voters are less likely to be able to obtain such an ID, though there is never any realistic explanation of why that is the case. Nor can they explain why they think cashing a check at a grocery store should have a higher bar than exercising your sacred trust of participating as a sovereign voice in the government of the United States.
Since many illegal immigrants now have access to a driver’s license in “sanctuary states” such as California, it is difficult if not impossible to tell a legal citizen from an interloper. The only thing that prevents illegal immigrants from voting is an unwillingness to break the law, and they have already proven that they think the law doesn’t apply to them.
Mark Hemingway wrote exhaustively at RealClearInvestigations earlier this month that it’s not only illegal aliens who present a threat to the sanctity of our elections. According to his report, Los Angeles by itself has 1.6 million more people registered to vote than eligible voters. But it’s not just Los Angeles or California that present a risk. According to Hemingway:
“Eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, have total voter registration tallies exceeding 100%, and in total, 38 states have counties where voter registration rates exceed 100%. Another state that stands out is Kentucky, where the voter registration rate in 48 of its 120 counties exceeded 100% last year. About 15% of America’s counties where there is reliable voter data – that is, over 400 counties out of 2,800 – have voter registration rates over 100%.”
If you think it is absurd that Democrats might want to take advantage of the large illegal immigration population to increase their vote totals, consider this: When passing their first piece of legislation in the Nancy Pelosi-led House of Representatives in 2019, Democrats rejected a GOP amendment stating that “allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens.”
There’s that idea of inflation again, which brings us back to the question of the value of citizenship. This is no longer a merely academic exercise, as we learned in the first round of Democratic presidential debates. Many of the candidates confirmed they want to decriminalize illegal immigration and even offer government benefits to those who are in the country without permission. Moreover, we’ve been told by the Supreme Court that we can’t ask about citizenship on the census unless our “motive” is politically correct. This raises the question of whether citizenship even matters in the world that Marx built.
What, for instance, makes an American an American? If citizenship rights are fungible — if, for instance, you can exchange your Guatemalan citizenship for quasi U.S. citizenship merely by stepping across a border — then what obligations does government have to its own citizens? Don’t we at some point surrender our own rights to the claims of sovereignty if borders are not barriers but merely props for a social-justice docudrama? At least in the realm of rhetoric, citizenship should no longer be considered a once-and-for-all privilege. Easy come, easy go.
I wonder if that’s what President Trump had in mind when he made the supposedly outrageous comments about “the Squad” of four socialist Democrats who want to demolish our borders. He has been attacked for asking, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four congresswomen were born in the United States, so Trump was technically wrong to say the “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen … originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” but under the new rules of fluid citizenship, he may have been even closer to the target than even he knew.
If citizenship no longer protects us, if we are obligated to shelter anyone who crosses our borders, then the value of that citizenship has been deflated just as the voter rolls have been inflated. Will the Squad really be “sent back” to some ancestral homeland? No, obviously not, but their advocacy of a country without borders makes them an apt target for those who want to defend our sovereignty.
President Trump, as usual, is ahead of the curve. He has pushed the open-borders argument to its natural conclusion. Citizenship and the responsibilities of citizenship either mean something specific or they don’t. Since Democrats in Congress refuse to acknowledge that U.S. citizenship has a real and permanent and impermeable meaning in law, then they need to live with the consequences of their globalist agenda. Sure, they are citizens of our great country, but if they are right in their defense of illegal immigrants, then that citizenship has no lasting value and offers no guarantees to those who possess it. In the brave new world without borders, the four congresswomen — and the rest of us — will have no certainty where we belong nor whether our citizenship rights can be taken away from us as easily as our protections.