Americans are losing interest in the Civil War—or at least they are losing interest in learning about it and visiting historic battle sites. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the country’s “five major Civil War battlefield parks—Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga/Chattanooga, and Vicksburg—had a combined 3.1 million visitors in 2018, down from about 10.2 million in 1970.” Gettysburg, America’s most famous and hallowed battlefield, drew fewer than a million visitors last year, and just 14 percent of the visitor total in 1970.
In addition to fewer tourists, the number of Civil War re-enactors is also declining. Many are growing old, and younger men are not stepping in to replenish their ranks. As one 68-year-old re-enactor, who recently helped organize a recreation of the Battle of Resaca in Georgia, told the Journal, “The younger generations are not taught to respect history, and they lose interest in it.”
But it’s not just that young people are not taught to respect history. They are often not taught history at all. To the extent they are, they are told that American history is a parade of horribles: slavery, genocide, bigotry, greed—a story above all of injustice and oppression, perpetrated by the powerful against the weak.
No wonder then, that recent public interest in the Civil War has mostly taken the form of a push to remove Confederate monuments from public places and rename buildings and roads bearing the names of Confederate leaders. We hear much about removing and renaming these days, but almost nothing about building more and better monuments, or reinvigorating public interest and education about the war.
In a country where large numbers of college graduates do not even know the half-century in which the Civil War occurred, but are convinced that Confederate monuments should come down, we should expect genuine interest in the Civil War to wane if not to disappear entirely, except perhaps as an object for political activism.
This problem of course goes well beyond the Civil War; it encompasses all of history. Consider the case of the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History examination. In 2014, the National Association of Scholars issued a report exposing the exam’s heavy progressive bias, systematic downplaying of American virtues, and outright omission of important periods in American history. The report sparked enough outrage and bad press that the College Board revised its exam—this time including previously omitted figures like James Madison—but according to the NAS the course materials for the test were unchanged and reflected the same progressive bias.
In 2016, the NAS decided to take a closer lookat another of the College Board’s offerings, the new AP European History examination, which, it turns out, reflected the same progressive bias as the American history exam. “The College Board’s persisting progressive distortion of history substantiates concerns that the 2015 APUSH revisions do not represent a genuine change of direction,” wrote the NAS’s David Randall, “but only a temporary detour in the College Board’s long march to impose leftist history on the half a million American high school students each year who prepare themselves for college by taking APUSH or APEH.”
(The exam, which purports to be about European history, omits all mention of Christopher Columbus, Michel de Montaigne, John Wesley, the Duke of Wellington, Florence Nightingale, and Václav Havel. It mentions Winston Churchill only “as a prompt for learning how to analyze primary sources.”)
Progressive bias in high school and college curricula is in part the long legacy of Howard Zinn, whose “A People’s History of the United States,” first published in 1980, presents a cartoonish, left-wing version of American history that pits “the people” against “the rulers” and casts the entire American experiment of democratic self-rule in a decidedly negative light. That approach is now common among professional historians, with the result that growing numbers of Americans don’t know much, or care to know much, about their own history.
As the historian Wilfred McClay said in a recent interview, the Zinn approach invites historical ignorance and indifference: “Why learn what the Wilmot Proviso was, or what exactly went into the Compromise of 1850, when you could just say we had this original sin of slavery?”
The danger here is not just that Civil War battlefields will eventually lie fallow for lack of visitors, but that we will unlearn the painful lessons of our past. To some extent, we’ve already started down that path.
Another recent NAS report, for example, examined the re-emergence of segregation on college campuses—what the authors call “neo-segregation.” In a survey of 173 schools, including small private colleges as well as major universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University, the study found“42 percent offer segregated residences, 46 percent offer segregated orientation programs, and 72 percent host segregated graduation ceremonies.”
These segregated graduation ceremonies are not mandatory, of course, and are offered in addition to regular graduation ceremonies. But the fact that they have become so prevalent on college campuses should disturb anyone familiar with the history of segregation in America. Whether it’s segregation by race, as at Columbia University’s “Raza Graduation Ceremony” and “Black Graduation,” or by sexual orientation, as at the University of Texas’s “Lavender graduation” for LGBT students, the trend of self-segregation among minority college students is a cause for worry, especially at a time when divisions in civil society are deepening.
There’s a ruthless logic to this, just as there’s a ruthless logic to reducing American history to a catalog of the worst things we’ve ever done. If history is just another tool in the pursuit of political power, there’s not much of an impetus to get it right.
I used to laugh every time I heard someone like Elon Musk say that we are living in a Matrix-like simulation. These days, not so much.
Don’t call the funny farm just yet. On the major question of the nature of sense experience, I remain with Aristotle and against Bishop Berkeley. Matter is real. But there is also the question of how we perceive “the news”; how established media institutions present and frame information; how we are supposed to respond to the “takes” purportedly expert and knowledgeable voices serve up to us by the second on social media. And here, I’m skeptical.
It’s hard not to be. Think of the headlines we’ve encountered since the beginning of this year. We were told the Covington Catholic boys were smug racist Trump supporters on the basis of a snippet of video. A young man, a private citizen, whose only offense was traveling to Washington, D.C., to march for life, was transformed at light speed into a symbol of hate and systemic oppression. However, just as Nick Sandmann’s reputation as a villain was about to set in stone, additional videos revealed that the students’ encounter with a far-left American Indian activist and the Black Hebrew Israelites was far more complicated than initially reported. The Covington Catholic boys had been smeared. People who cast themselves as agents of professional knowledge, expertise, and moral authority had circulated and amplified a lie in the service of a political agenda. Not for the first nor last time.
We were told Jussie Smollett, a rising gay African-American actor and singer, had been the victim of a hate crime committed by MAGA-hat-wearing Trump supporters in the dead cold of a Chicago night. Journalists and bloggers who asked questions about Smollett’s story were decried as bigots, even as key details went missing and the shifting timeline became more and more curious. Then the city’s African-American police commissioner announced Smollett had been arrested for orchestrating a bizarre hoax. The state’s attorney filed charges—charges subsequently dropped after behind-the-scenes lobbying by Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff.
We were told that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin were in cahoots to hack the emails of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign; that Trump might have been a Russian agent since the late 1980s; that the key to the conspiracy might be a server in Trump Tower relaying information to a Russian bank; that the indictment of Donald Trump Jr. was imminent; that Trump Sr., according to the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, had committed “treason”; that Michael Cohen had met with Russian intelligence operatives in Prague; that Trump had directed Michael Flynn to speak to the Russians prior to Election Day 2016; that Trump had instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress; that Paul Manafort had met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadoran embassy in London during the campaign; that secret indictments in an Alexandria courthouse would be unsealed on the day Robert Mueller filed his report on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. None of it happened.
We were told that Michael Avenatti, a trial attorney who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to represent Stephanie Clifford, aka “Stormy Daniels,” in her (tossed-out) defamation suit against Donald Trump, was a defender of the rule of law and election integrity who posed, in the words of Stephen Colbert, an “existential threat” to the Trump presidency. Avenatti appeared incessantly on cable news, earning the equivalent of $175 million in media exposure between March and May 2018. Last September, an article in Politico Magazine carried the headline, “Michael Avenatti Is Winning the 2020 Democratic Primary.” When Avenatti said he represented a client who had been a victim of gang rapes and druggings at parties attended by Brett Kavanaugh during high school, NBC News interviewed the client despite being unable to verify her (ludicrous) accusation. By last November, when he was arrested for domestic assault in Los Angeles, Avenatti had appeared on television more than 200 times in the space of 8 months.
On the morning I wrote this column a federal grand jury indicted Avenatti on 36 counts, including fraud. “Defendant AVENATTI would embezzle and misappropriate settlement proceeds to which he was not entitled,” reads just one sentence of the mind-boggling 61-page indictment. What media authorities had presented as true—that Avenatti was a serious attorney whose evidence would destroy the Trump presidency—has been revealed, once again, as utterly fallacious, a con. It’s up to the jury to decide if Michael Avenatti is a criminal. What’s beyond dispute, has been for a while, is that he is an unserious person, out for attention, celebrity, the notoriety and status fame brings. In the months of his ascendance, however, cable anchors and journalists did their best to avoid or downplay the truth of Avenatti’s character, lest it distract from their attack on the president’s.
As the influence of establishment media outlets has waned, their attempts to control the narrative have intensified. The cable networks and major print outlets have become more politicized, not less, as social media and streaming video make it much easier to expose hoaxes and puncture holes in the received wisdom. The Sentinels who protect the liberal media matrix are vigilant against thoughtcrime, they anathematize dissent, but they are less interested in the canons of professional journalism, such as presenting both sides of a story and refraining from baseless speculation. Right now they are heralding Ilhan Omar for her courage, turning Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into the flag-bearer of the Democratic Party, and confident that no matter the opposition Trump will be defeated. Best be skeptical. As with all the other bogus stories, reality will make itself felt in the end. It always does.
By Conrad Black • National Review
The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that the distinguished attorney general has whitewashed the president in his summary and his decision that there was no obstruction of justice. One of the most entertaining moments of news-watching in many years came last week, when former national intelligence director James Clapper said it was “scary” and former FBI director Comey said it was “bizarre” to hear Attorney General William Barr say that the Trump campaign had been spied on. It has been obvious for a long time that both these men and former CIA director John Brennan lied under oath on a number of occasions, and Comey’s complaint last week that “court-ordered surveillance” wasn’t spying is going to get a full assessment when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) warrants that were the court authorization in this case, and were obtained on the basis of false campaign smears assembled and paid for by the Clinton campaign, are judicially considered.
Given the proportions of the scam that has been perpetrated, the principal actors, including those just named, deserve commendation for the imperishability of their unctuousness. These people seem still to be oblivious to the fact that lying under oath and producing false FISA applications are serious offenses. And some of the congressional Democrats, such as Congressmen Nadler, Swallwill, and Schiff (the new-millennium version of “Martin, Barton, and Fish,” made infamous by FDR in 1940), seem to think they have a perfect constitutional right to keep the president in the pillory of their spurious investigations indefinitely. The whole edifice of the Trump moral crisis is coming down in shards around the ears of the Clinton and Obama Democrats.
By Harris Alic • Washington Free Beacon
Small business owners are pushing back against Democratic mischaracterizations of President Donald Trump’s signature Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
More than a year after the legislation went into effect—slashing personal and corporate tax rates across the board—the focus has shifted from worker bonuses and wage increases to shrinking tax refunds. The latter, resulting from a decrease in the level of taxes paid throughout the year and changes to the Internal Revenue Service’s withholding formula, has increasingly become fodder for Democrats eager to portray the cuts as a “scam” to benefit the wealthy.
In reality, the issue is more complicated, as Alfredo Ortiz, the president of the Jobs Creator Network (JCN), told the Washington Free Beacon. Ortiz’s group, which represents a diverse coalition of small businesses and bills itself “as the voice of Main Street,” has been working to educate voters on the benefits of the tax cuts ahead of the April 15 IRS filing deadline. JCN believes that if Democrats are allowed to win the debate over tax refunds, it will make it easier for the party to eventually push for a full repeal of the Trump tax cuts at a later date.
By Warren Henry • The Federalist
After almost two weeks of critical media coverage of Joe Biden’s handsy history, poll after poll indicates most Democrats do not care. The latest Quinnipiac poll—of California, no less—has the yet-to-announce Biden easily leading Bernie Sanders and favorite daughter Kamala Harris. This poll also has Harris performing better among white liberals than nonwhite voters.
These findings are mostly news to the progressive elites at the top of Democratic politics and the establishment media. The data suggesting the Democratic Party is an upstairs/downstairs coalition in which a small faction of disproportionately white progressives dominate a more diverse rank-and-file has been piling up in studies by More in Common, Pew, and Gallup. In recent days, some in the media have finally begun to notice.
At The New York Times, resident propellerheads Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy find that “[t]oday’s Democratic Party is increasingly perceived as dominated by its ‘woke’ left wing. But the views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate.” They add: “The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online.”
Cohn and Quealy report that approximately a quarter of Democrats are progressive ideologues; only a tenth might identify as democratic socialists. “The rest of the party is easy to miss,” they write. “Not only is it less active on social media, but it is also under-represented in the well-educated, urban enclaves where journalists roam.” Continue reading
By Christopher Jacobs • The Federalist
In talking about his single-payer bill, which he reintroduced in the Senate on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders often claims that “I want to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people as a right and not a privilege.”
But his legislation would do no such thing. Understanding why demonstrates the inherent drawbacks of his government-centered approach to health policy.
Section 201(a) illustrates the catch in Sanders’ bill, and his philosophy. That section states that “individuals enrolled for benefits under this Act are entitled to have payment made…to an eligible provider” for a list of covered services. Note the wording: Sanders’ bill doesn’t guarantee access to care. Instead, it merely guarantees that people will have their care covered—if they can access it. But in government-run systems, finding access to care often proves no easy feat.
In our own country, low reimbursement rates in many state Medicaid programs can make finding doctors difficult. One 2011 study found that two-thirds of specialist physicians would not accept Medicaid patients, whereas only 11 percent of patients with Continue reading
Elections,” the man once said, “have consequences.”
In 2016, the need to fill a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court was a consequence foremost in the minds of voters. That the pick ended up being made by Donald Trump’s and not Hillary Rodham Clinton helped stoke the partisan rancor that has the country divided and beleaguered.
A Clinton pick would have turned the court to the left for the first time in decades. Trump’s first nominee preserved the originalist wing of the court. His second appointment solidified it. And the voters apparently approve. Pollster Scott Rasmussen recently found 61 percent of voters approve of the way the court is doing its job. The high level of confidence, he says, tracks back at least as far as August 2018, and 59 percent of those surveyed think the court’s power is at about the right level.
Chief Justice John Roberts, whom some conservatives regard as the weakest of the adherents to originalism currently on the court, has been accused of making compromises on legal points to protect the court’s reputation. The Rasmussen numbers suggest the strategy’s worked, at least to this point. Still, as Roberts’ deciding vote to uphold the constitutionality of the tax/penalty piece of Obamacare illuminates, the court’s power to decide legislative disputes is now firmly entrenched in the American system. This may not have been the founder’s intent, but the court now has the last word on controversial matters that many continue to argue should be settled in and by the legislature.
Right now, with the court stacked five to four against for the foreseeable future, the Left is up in arms. Seeking a fix, several candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination have embraced the idea of expanding the size of the Supreme Court, formerly an obscure idea emanating from the academy. “Plain and simple, the Democrats are seeking to get through legislation what they couldn’t achieve at the ballot box,” says Brad Blakeman, a former Bush White House staffer. “They are seeking to add judges, not fill vacancies, which is totally subverting the system.”
This is why the confirmation of new justices has been, since Reagan-appointee Robert Bork was defeated, so confrontational. Everything happens with outcomes in mind. Blakeman’s point is well taken. If the court really did need to be expanded, it could be done now. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who wants to follow Trump in the White House, could drop a bill doing that next week. But what she and others intend is pure politics: Win the election first, then pack the court with liberals, end critical debates once and for all, and leave the Left in power forever.
It’s a powerful temptation. Franklin Roosevelt famously proposed the addition of new associate justices to the court to assist its older members who, surprise, surprise, would probably also be voting to uphold the constitutionality of New Deal measures the court had been striking down.
That, says David Norcross, a former Republican National Committee general counsel and former head of the Republican National Lawyers’ Association, was a bad idea then and would be now.
“Presidents have suffered from this since Chief Justice Marshall declared the independence of the courts. Fortunately, Congress, including some Democrats, thought the better of FDR’s court-packing scheme and acknowledged the Constitution and the founders’ reasoning,” Norcross says.
To thousands of other legal and presidential scholars all over America, the point of the court is its independence – and always has been. Packing the court would upend that.
“Democrats keep criticizing the president for trampling all over political “norms” and call him a dictator. But here we see them so upset at losing the last election they want to trample all over the “norms” and completely change the rules of the game to favor themselves, says political strategist Mike Shields.
The irony is the cure is worse than alleged disease. Just as Democrats have continued to protest, to “resist” the outcome of the 2016 election even though Trump was, famously, the only candidate ever asked about it in televised debates. It is those who oppose him who have come with the idea of loading up the court with compliant liberal justice in order to produce desired outcomes in a way that demeans if not erodes the constitutional system.
“Once Congress decides to add justices the race to chaos commences. Add two new justices, then if not satisfied with the outcomes, add two more. It will get easier to do so each time until the Court resembles a third, albeit smaller, legislative body which has become entirely political,” says Norcross. “An independent Court is an indispensable ingredient of the system of checks and balances. A Supreme Court concerned that a politically unpopular decision or decisions will result in adding new justices isn’t independent anymore.”
By Kevin D. Williamson • National Review
The Senate. The Electoral College. The First Amendment. The Second Amendment. The Supreme Court. Is there a part of our constitutional order that the Democrats have not pledged to destroy?
There are some Democrats out there in the sticks — a lot of them, in fact — who simply don’t understand the constitutional order. They believe that the United States is a democracy, John Adams et al. be damned, and, in fact, they often are confused by the frankly anti-democratic features of the American order, because they have been taught (theirs is a pseudo-education consisting of buzzwords rather than an actual education) that “democratic” means “good” and “undemocratic” means “bad.”
But the Democrats in Washington are a different story. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris went to law school. They understand the American constitutional order just fine.
And they hate it.
The American order is complex — it is much more sophisticated than “democracy,” which assumes that nothing stands between the individual and the national state except aggregation, that might (defined as 50 percent + 1) makes right. The American order is based on the idea that the United States consists of many different kinds of people in many different kinds of communities, and that each of these has interests that are legitimate even when they conflict with the equally legitimate interests of other communities. The densely populous urban mode of life is not the only mode of life, and the people of the urban areas are not entitled by their greater numbers to dominate their fellow citizens in the less populous rural areas.
The basic units of the United States are, as the name suggests, the several states. The states created the federal government, not the other way around. The states are not administrative subdivisions of the federal government, which is their instrument, not their master. In this, the United States is fundamentally different from countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan, which have unitary national governments under which provincial distinctions are largely irrelevant.
In our system, the states matter. Under the Democrats’ vision, some states matter: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio, which, without the institutions of federalism, have among them the numbers and the power to effectively dominate the rest of the country.
At the time of the Founding, the people of the smaller states did not desire to enter into a union in which they and their interests would be dominated by the larger ones. The people of the smaller states still do not wish to be politically dominated by the larger ones. For that reason, the interests of the states as such — not mere aggregates of voters — are taken into consideration. The Senate, as originally organized, existed to preserve the interests of the states as such against the opportunism and predation of the more populous House of Representatives — and against the ambitions of the executive, too. Turning the Senate into an inflated version of the House was one of the progressives’ first great victories against the Constitution of the United States and an important step toward the sort of mass democracy that our constitutional order is explicitly designed to prevent.
But the states have other protections as well, one of which is the Electoral College, which helps to ensure that the president — the Founders were right to fear presidential ambition — is not a mere tribune of the plebs, a rider upon “the beast with many heads” empowered by the mob at his back to abuse and dominate members of minority groups — smaller states, religious minorities, political minorities, etc.
The rights of minorities are further protected — from democracy — by the Constitution’s limitations on the power of the federal government and specifically by the Bill of Rights, which places some considerations above democracy: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to security in one’s home and papers, etc. One of the main constitutional functions of the Supreme Court is to see to it that the federal government does not violate the Bill of Rights, even when We the People demand that it does — especially then, actually: Rights that enjoy wide popular support require very little constitutional protection. It is the unpopular rights that require protection.
Of course there were blemishes and oversights. Even the enlightened minds of the 18th century were hostages of their time, and the interests of African Americans and women were not taken into consideration. Those defects were corrected, partly by the shedding of blood but to a great extent by constitutional amendments that abolished slavery, enfranchised women, and brought the American people at large more fully into the constitutional system. The preamble to the Constitution describes a “more perfect union,” which is not the same thing as a perfect union. The genius of leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was that their calls to radical change ran against the grain of American society at their time but were perfectly in tune with the American idea and the principles of the American order.
The Democrats’ calls to radical change in 2019 are precisely the opposite: They are very much in keeping with the transient passions of the time but fundamentally opposed to the American constitutional order.
The Electoral College ensures that the citizens in the less popular states are not reduced to serfdom by the greater numbers (and greater wealth) of the people in the more populous states. This balancing of minority rights with democratic processes is a fundamental part of the American order (properly understood, the value of plebiscitary democracy is not substantive — majorities are at least as likely to be wicked and oppressive as virtuous and just — but purely procedural), and the Electoral College is the instrument by which that principle is applied to the election of presidents. The Democrats desire to abolish the Electoral College for purely self-interested reasons of partisanship: They think that there would be more Democratic presidents under unmediated mass democracy.
The First Amendment ensures that all Americans have the right to engage in political speech. Democrats wish to put political speech under heavy regulation, so that the people holding political power set the rules under which they may be criticized and debated. The Democrats have attempted to gut the First Amendment under the guise of “campaign finance” regulation, as though the right of free speech could be separated from the means of speech. It is worth bearing in mind that the Democrats’ latest attack on the First Amendment was occasioned by the desire of a political activist group to show a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the run-up to a presidential election — a film whose circulation the Democrats sought to prohibit as a “campaign finance” matter.
The Supreme Court stepped in to stop that, finding that the First Amendment means what it says. And now the Democrats propose to corrupt the Supreme Court, expanding the number of justices from nine to whatever number it takes for a future Democratic president to create a majority of Democratic partisans on the Court. They are counting on the same court-packing scheme to give them the power to effectively repeal the Second Amendment without having to bother to propose and ratify a constitutional amendment — a political fight that the Democrats would surely lose.
What the Democrats are proposing — abolishing the constitutional protections afforded to smaller states and political minorities, perverting the Supreme Court, gutting the Bill of Rights — amounts in sum to a revolution, replacing our government with a government of a very different character and structure.
They are doing this mainly because the Constitution prevents them from achieving their immediate short-term political goals. And we should be clear about what those immediate political goals actually are: muzzling their political opponents and those with unpopular political views, disarming the citizenry, stripping minority groups of political power, and rigging the political system in favor of their own constituents. They would, if given the power, burn down the American constitutional order and replace it with something closer to ordinary mob rule, plain and unapologetic ochlocracy. The United States is not drifting into fascism or socialism — it is drifting into anarchy.
That’s quite a fit to throw over Mrs. Clinton being denied her tiara.
The Republican party likes to position itself as the defender of the Constitution. But with a few exceptions (Senator Ben Sasse prominent among them), Republicans in elected office demonstrate very little appreciation for the actual stakes on the political table. For the moment, they are more concerned with defending the Trump administration — which, whatever you think of it, is a short-term concern — than with defending something that is far more important, far more precious, and, in all likelihood, impossible to replace. If 2016 taught us anything, it is that the Jeffersons and Madisons of this generation apparently are otherwise occupied, that our political leadership is for the time diminished, and that the institutions the Democrats propose to incinerate could not be rebuilt by contemporary Americans any more than modern Iraqis could successfully revive the Code of Hammurabi.
By Frank Miele • Real Clear Politics
I’ve avoided writing about the Green New Deal for the same reason that you stick your head under the covers when the boogeyman comes out at night — you hope, with any luck, it will just go away.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go away; it has replaced “health care for all” as the most dangerous arrow in the quiver of the progressive agenda, and it is aimed straight at the heart of American society.
Although Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is most closely associated with the Green New Deal, she is little more than a paid advertising spokeswoman for the revolutionary legislation, which aims to completely overthrow the American economic order within 10 years.
The most offensive element of the initial rollout of the plan was the guarantee of “Economic security to all who are unable or unwilling to work” (emphasis mine). Since shelling out trillions of dollars to lazy people is an idea offensive to millions of hard-working Americans, that proposal was rapidly “disappeared” from Ocasio-Cortez’s website, but even without that insulting nonsense, the entire package is a socialist nightmare waiting to happen.
Just look at the components of the plan that are acknowledged. The Green New Deal is not just a climate-change proposal; it is a forced re-invention of society — no less damaging than the forced relocation of the Cherokee Nation in the 19th century or the forced re-education of the Chinese nation during the Cultural Revolution in the 20th.
The resolution before Congress declares that it is the duty of the federal government “to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States.” This one tiny component by itself demonstrates the socialist agenda underlying the GND. How exactly does the federal government “create” millions of jobs? How do federal bureaucrats ensure that they are high-wage jobs? How do they guarantee prosperity? Have Democrats never heard of a recession? Do they think that economic downturns can be legislated out of existence? It should be the duty of the federal government to stay out of the way and let the engine of capitalism work, as it always has, to create wealth, but instead this proposal wants the federal government to compete with private industry, to regulate it into submission, and to engineer the economy into something Stalin would be proud of.
In the “10-year national mobilization” envisioned by Green New Deal, the federal government would become the biggest Big Brother in history, dictating “improvements” in virtually every aspect of life. Oh, yes — “health care for all” is now just an unassuming asterisk among all the freebies and mandates being handed out. Among other things, this modest proposal would require the government to:
— Guarantee “universal access to clean water.”
— Meet “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”
— Upgrade “all existing buildings in the United States and [construct] new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.”
— Build “a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.” [“Soylent Green,” anyone?]
— Provide “resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States.” [Note: not citizens.]
— Provide “all people of the United States” with high-quality health-care, “affordable, safe and adequate [Let the courts decide!] housing,” “economic security” [Oops! Does that actually include those unwilling to work?], and “clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and access to nature.”
— Guarantee “a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”
That last provision is one of the many landmines in the Green New Deal that its authors either never thought through or, worse, included intentionally to subvert the national economy. We can start by noting that Social Security will now be paid out based not on how much you contributed, but on how much you need to feel “secure.” But there’s an even worse explosion waiting to happen:
If everyone is guaranteed a job with a “family-sustaining wage,” then workers in the future will be paid not based on the quality of their work or the value of their job, but on the size of their family. Obviously, a family of 10 needs more money to be sustained than a family of two. Plus, how do we guarantee “family-sustaining wages” to both parents in a working family? Is the intention to return families to the one-breadwinner model since each worker by definition will be able to provide for their family with a single income? Or will the two workers in a couple have to accept half wages because they are sharing responsibility for sustaining the family?
This is madness, but predictable madness. The best evidence of the chaos that ensues when a government orders massive social change in order to bring “justice” to the economy is Mao’s Great Leap Forward in China, where 60 million people perished to prove one man’s ideas wrong. The Ukrainian famine ordered by Stalin is a close second for sheer insanity, but doesn’t come anywhere near the human cost of Mao’s.
Earlier, I said that Ocasio-Cortez was the front person for the Green New Deal, not its author. That is obvious, but it doesn’t absolve her of responsibility for the horrors that would be unleashed should it come to pass. She has called the plan a “Green Dream,” but this is not the first time in history that a dream has turned into a nightmare. As Uncle Joe Stalin liked to say, “You gotta have a (five-year) plan.”
Okay, that’s slight poetic license. But Soviet Russia’s “five-year plans” were no joke. They wrecked Russia’s economy. The Green New Deal, on a 10-year time frame, would do the same.
Charismatic leaders with dangerous ideas can never be dismissed as just nuisances; they must be taken seriously — and stopped while they still can be. The Green New Deal has been assigned a price tag of $93 trillion by the former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — and that’s just fiscal cost. Were its socialist agenda actually put in place, we have been warned that our forests would be denuded, the economy would be destroyed, and millions would perish of starvation. A small price to pay for a true believer like Ocasio-Cortez, but she isn’t the one who would be paying the price.
So now that the boogeyman is out of the closet — exposed as a socialist monster — we have no choice but to face our fears and kill it quickly and decisively. The alternative is unthinkable.
By Rich Lowry • National Review
The same Democrats outraged by Donald Trump’s alleged offenses against the First Amendment passed, as their first priority, a speech-restricting bill opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Trump shouldn’t call the media “the enemy of the people” or inveigh against Jeff Bezos for owning the Washington Post, but Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 1, which passed the House last week, is the true affront to the Constitution.
The wide-ranging legislation purports to reform campaign finance with a series of vague, sweeping measures that will act to chill speech when they don’t actively regulate or squelch it. H.R. 1 is called the For the People Act but would be more aptly titled the Be Careful What You Say, It Might Be Illegal Act.
Progressives can’t abide the notion that people in this country get together to spend money on advocacy outside the purview of the government — in other words, freely promote their favored causes as befits a free people living in a free country.
H.R. 1 cracks the whip. As the Institute for Free Speech points out, the current campaign-finance rules limit expenditures that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate, or refer to a candidate in public advertising shortly before an election. The idea is to have clear rules so groups can promote their views without fear of running afoul of federal regulations.
H.R. 1 blows this regime up. It seeks to regulate any speech at any time that “promotes or supports the candidate, or attacks or opposes an opponent of the candidate,” a fuzzy standard that could catch up all manner of nonelectoral messages (e.g., “Trump’s tariffs are a mistake,” or “Support Trump’s wall”).
H.R. 1 also widens the definition of coordination between a group and a candidate to encompass almost any communication. It’d still be permissible to discuss a candidate’s position on an issue, so long as there is no talk “regarding the candidate’s or committee’s campaign advertising, message, strategy, policy, polling, allocation of resources, fundraising, or other campaign activities.”
Even if a group doesn’t coordinate with a candidate under this loose standard, it could still be deemed to have coordinated if it were founded by someone who goes on to become a candidate; relies on the professional services of someone who also did work for a candidate; or is run by someone who had conversations about a campaign with the relative of a candidate.
On top of all this, H.R. 1 goes after the privacy of donors to advocacy organizations. It mandates the disclosure of the names and addresses of donors giving more than $10,000 to groups that engage in “campaign-related disbursements.” Given our toxic political environment, this would potentially subject the donors to harassment and abuse, and they might not even be aware of or support the communications in question.
Supporters of H.R. 1 say it is necessary to rein in super PACs, the frightening-sounding organizations that aren’t as unregulated as everyone believes (the Federal Election Commission gets reports of their expenditures and contributions). But, as the Institute for Free Speech notes, the bill affects a much broader array of “trade associations, unions, business groups, and advocacy organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life Committee.”
Love them or hate them, these groups are part of the warp and woof of American public life, and they shouldn’t have to think twice before engaging in acts of persuasion that enrich and enliven our democracy, not corrupt it.
The Supreme Court has long put an emphasis on bright lines in its campaign-finance jurisprudence exactly to avoid a chilling effect on advocacy. It has said that laws must be “both easily understood and objectively determinable.” The campaign-finance provisions of H.R. 1 are neither.
What H.R. 1 makes abundantly clear is that the foremost threat to the First Amendment are the people who believe that there is something untoward about unregulated political speech and seek to bring it under control.
By Jeffrey Cimmino • Washington Free Beacon
The Washington Post issued an editor’s note Thursday admitting inaccuracies in its initial reporting on a January incident involving Native American protesters, high school students from Covington, Ky., and a group known as Black Hebrew Israelites.
The note sweeps away the provocative details that turned the story into a phenomenon, including the accusation that Covington students prevented Native American activist Nathan Phillips from moving away.
“A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial,” the statement begins. “Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict.”
The editor’s note acknowledges that the high school student facing Phillips contradicted the latter’s account of the incident, and that “an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos.” The statement adds that the Post reported on these subsequent developments.
The student at the center of this imbroglio, high school junior Nick Sandmann, filed a $250 million defamation lawsuit against the Post, and his attorneys claim the newspaper led a “mob of bullies which attacked, vilified & threatened” him.
In January, film emerged of Sandmann and a group of Covington Catholic high school students, many of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, appearing to taunt Phillips, a Native American and veteran, near the Lincoln Memorial. Initial reactions on social media condemned the mostly white students for seeming to mock Phillips.
Phillips initially claimed he saw the students taunting indigenous peoples near the memorial and tried to walk towards the monument before being blocked, but later said he stepped into the crowd to defuse tensions between the students and a nearby group of extremists known as Black Hebrew Israelites. Video showed Phillips banging his drum inches from Sandmann’s face, and Phillips claimed to feel threatened and blocked by the student.
Sandmann countered Phillips’ account, saying he was confused when Phillips approached him and was trying to calm down a tense situation. Sandmann added the students were engaging in school cheers before Phillips approached, in response to expletive-laden taunts being hurled at them by the Black Hebrew Israelites. Video released later shows this to have been the case.
Additional video revealed the students did not chant “Build the wall” or “Trump 2020” as Phillips claimed, and showed the students did not surround Phillips—he walked into their midst.
The Diocese of Covington announced earlier this month that an independent investigation exonerated the students and showed they “did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.”
“In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening,” Bishop Roger Foys said. “Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory.”
By Johnathan S. Tobin • National Review
It turns out you can accuse Jews of controlling the world, buying Congress, and harboring dual loyalty to Israel and still be considered a heroine by much of the Democratic party. The reaction to the latest example of anti-Semitic invective from Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) is a teaching moment for anyone previously unsure about how the toxic mix of identity politics, intersectional ideology, and naked partisanship could lead to a major American political party deciding that hatemongering from one of its members wasn’t deserving even of a slap on the wrist.
A week’s worth of national discussion over Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks didn’t result in her condemnation by the House. To the contrary, the House majority revealed itself to be deeply divided on the question of how to handle blatant anti-Semitism. The “compromise” Democrats finally agreed upon was a resolution that not only lumped in the question of the moment — the effort by one member of Congress to delegitimize Jews and supporters of Israel — with a laundry list of other hatreds. And they failed to single out Omar for her actions.
The result is an odd echo of those who criticized the Black Lives Matter movement by claiming that “all lives mattered,” a stand that was harshly criticized at the time by most liberals and Democrats as insensitive to — if not evidence of — racial bigotry. It is a stance they appear to have no shame echoing when it comes to anti-Semitism.
Indeed, Omar has emerged from this incident not only unscathed but also confident that many in the House, and several Democratic presidential candidates, consider her the aggrieved party in the discussion. With so many Democrats agreeing that Omar had been unfairly singled out because of her race and religion, that leaves Jews, one of the most loyal constituencies of the Democratic party, pondering the speed with which they had been discarded.
Jews and supporters of Israel are not the only losers in this incident. House speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear to Omar a month ago that expressions of anti-Semitism would not be tolerated and forced the congresswoman to issue a contrite apology claiming, as she had done after a previous anti-Semitic statement, that she was unaware of the hurtful nature of singling out Jews for demonization.
That this exercise was blatantly insincere was evident not only from the wording of the apology but also because of Omar’s open support of the BDS — boycott, divestment, sanctions — movement against Israel which routinely traffics in anti-Semitism. Far from seeking a more open conversation on the Middle East or the U.S.–Israel alliance, the goal of Omar and fellow BDS supporter Representative Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) is to isolate the one Jewish state on the planet.
But after Omar’s more recent statement in which she accused “Jewish colleagues” of seeking to discriminate against her and Tlaib because they were Muslims and asking Americans “to swear allegiance” to Israel, there will not be even an insincere apology. Instead, it was Pelosi who backed down after the vote, lamely claiming again that Omar didn’t mean to be anti-Semitic, as if the events of the last month that proved the contrary had never happened.
How is this possible?
Many on the left believe that as a woman of color, a Muslim, and an immigrant, Omar cannot, by definition, be a purveyor of hate and prejudice. One way that identity politics manifests is that those who are considered oppressed receive immunity to do things that those considered more privileged cannot do. Hence many Democrats, particularly members of the Congressional Black Caucus, sought to defend Omar rather than to disavow her.
Just as important is the way intersectional theory — which, taking its cues from critical-race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, seeks to connect the struggle of all allegedly oppressed peoples — serves to legitimate anti-Semitism. For many on the left, the Palestinian war to destroy Israel is falsely linked to the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Not only does that cause them to ignore the complicated truth about the conflict in the Middle East, it also justifies BDS campaigns and efforts to demonize those who support Israel.
Pelosi and other mainstream Democrats have long accused Republicans of trying to use their ardent support for Israel as a wedge issue and thereby damaging bipartisan support for the Jewish state. What they failed to realize is that much of their party no longer wants any part of that consensus. Three of the party’s leading presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris — all issued statements in support of Omar, even registering concern about her safety.
While Pelosi and other mainstream Democrats are hoping the House resolution will end the controversy, one suspects that it is only the beginning of the effort to chip away at support for Israel and to legitimate anti-Jewish tropes in the process. Omar is now armed with the knowledge that she has the support of a large portion of the Democratic party, and will likely continue to snipe away at both Jewish members of Congress and AIPAC. The line that used to exist between legitimate debate about the Middle East and anti-Semitic invective has been blurred by this incident. It may yet disappear if Democrats come to believe that there is no use trying to restrain radicals who now feel empowered to slander Israel’s supporters with impunity. The Left has served notice to Pelosi that they are in charge now, not her.
This may not hurt Democrats at the voting booths. But the idea that Jews have a secure home in the Democratic party has been exposed as an illusion. The Left hasn’t merely captured the Democratic party — it has transformed it.
By Mollie Hemingway • The Federalist
The Democratic National Committee is refusing to allow Fox News Channel to televise any of its candidate debates during the 2019-2020 cycle, according to the Washington Post.
DNC Chair Tom Perez cited an article written by liberal journalist Jane Mayer of The New Yorker for his decision. Her article alleged that Fox News Channel, which has been less hostile and hysterical about the man elected president by the United States electorate than its counterparts at every other television outlet, was too close to the Donald Trump White House.
Fox News’ opinion hosts include Trump-loving Sean Hannity. Its news hosts, including Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, Shannon Bream, and Chris Wallace, are far more objective than those at other broadcast media outlets. Liberal Trump critic Shep Smith is also billed as a news host. Other media outlets frequently blur the line between news and opinion, with CNN hosts Jake Tapper, Brian Stelter, Chris Cuomo, and Don Lemon mixing their liberal opinions with occasional bouts of news.
In recent years:
That’s just a few off-the-top-of-the-head examples of media and Democratic Party collusion regarding election year issues and debates. But it’s a problem that exists so constantly as to be a crisis.
NBC’s Chuck Todd showed his legendarily extreme bias on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” show. He falsely claimed Rep. Jim Jordan was sharing opinion, not facts, when he accurately discussed Michael Cohen’s testimony that he’d never been to Prague — a central claim of a discredited dossier, secretly funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, secretly fed to media outlets and intelligence agencies, and used to undermine the Trump administration for more than two years.
But when Sen. Mark Warner claimed there was evidence of collusion with Russia, Todd didn’t push back in any way, despite the lack of evidence. Last year, Tapper, a former gun control spokesman, hosted a rally that spun up a mob against gun rights and Dana Loesch while letting a corrupt sheriff off the hook.
The Democratic National Committee, whose allies select stories, frame those stories, and write and broadcast those stories at nearly all other major media outlets, has every right to use its media-enabled power against Fox News Channel, which tends to be less aligned with Democrats. It makes sense that the DNC would only want friends and ideological allies to question them in debates, particularly when they only need to ostracize one media outlet to accomplish that.
The question is, why do establishment Republicans allow Republicans to be treated as second-class citizens? They sit back and lamely accept the false narrative that Fox is a crazy right-wing propaganda network while the other media outlets are treated as straight news. This is pure gaslighting.
Which broadcast outlet, among NBC, CBS, ABC — not to mention the cartoonishly biased MSNBC and CNN — is not severely biased against Republicans and their domestic policy goals? The Washington Post is not neutral, as its full-court advocacy to utterly destroy the life and reputation of Kavanaugh reminded those who hadn’t figured it out in previous decades.
Most of its stories show this. To take, again, but one recent example of out many, the Washington Post’s smear today of a Christian judge reads as if it were lifted directly from the public relations arm of the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.
In what sense is The New York Times not the propaganda arm of the Democratic National Committee? Why, then, do Republicans let their declared enemies set the terms of their own debates?
Instead, Republicans play a big game of pretend, dutifully going on shows hosted by activists Todd and former Bill Clinton spokesman George Stephanopolous — two hosts who are far, far, far less impartial than Baier and Wallace.
The excuse the DNC used to boycott Fox was the story spun by Mayer, a woman known at least as much for her sloppy journalism as for her far-left activism. She was one of the bylines on one of the journalistically indefensible smears of Kavanaugh before his confirmation. The first “conservative” Mayer quoted to attack Fox News was Bill Kristol. I stopped reading when the second alleged “conservative” was the Post’s Jennifer Rubin.
The liberal activists at other networks and media outlets lapped up Mayer’s story. In response to the DNC boycotting Fox, CNN’s anti-Republican media analyst Brian Stelter wrote, “Yes, Fox has a news division. But Fox is mostly defined by its opinion division, where hosts and guests demonize Democrats from morning til night.”
This from the network that has for years obsessively pushed in its news programming, which is also its opinion programming, an insane conspiracy of treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election. It perhaps should be noted that CNN got in a bit of trouble when one of its employees was caught passing debate questions to Clinton during the 2016 primary.
In any case, one of the reasons Trump was successful and won the presidency was that he declined to play the game where he treated the media as if they weren’t biased and facing massive credibility problems. Do other Republicans enjoy being treated like second-class citizens? Do they think they must accept it?
What are they going to do going forward? The media aren’t getting better. They’re getting worse. And the alliance between Democrats and the media grows stronger every day. Is this of interest to establishment Republicans?
It is long past time for Republicans to acknowledge that nearly all of the major media outlets view Republicans as their political enemies. Given the media response today to Democrats blacklisting Fox News Channel, they have set the precedent that it is perfectly acceptable for Republicans to do the same with media organizations that have shown they have neither the desire nor the ability to honestly and fairly moderate political debates, much less intra-party debates or discussions that include Republican officials and the views they hold.
By Victor Davis Hanson • The National Review
Californians brag that their state is the world’s fifth-largest economy. They talk as reverentially of Silicon Valley companies Apple, Facebook, and Google as the ancient Greeks did of their Olympian gods.
Hollywood and universities such as Caltech, Stanford, and Berkeley are cited as permanent proof of the intellectual, aesthetic, and technological dominance of West Coast culture.
Californians also see their progressive, one-party state as a neo-socialist model for a nation moving hard to the left.
But how long will they retain such confidence?
California’s 40 million residents depend on less than 1 percent of the state’s taxpayers to pay nearly half of the state income tax, which for California’s highest tier of earners tops out at the nation’s highest rate of 13.3 percent.
In other words, California cannot afford to lose even a few thousand of its wealthiest individual taxpayers. But a new federal tax law now caps deductions for state and local taxes at $10,000 — a radical change that promises to cost many high-earning taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
If even a few thousand of the state’s 1 percent flee to nearby no-tax states such as Nevada or Texas, California could face a devastating shortfall in annual income.
During the 2011-16 California drought, politicians and experts claimed that global warming had permanently altered the climate, and that snow and rain would become increasingly rare in California. As a result, long-planned low-elevation reservoirs, designed to store water during exceptionally wet years, were considered all but useless and thus were never built.
Then, in 2016 and 2017, California received record snow and rainfall — and the windfall of millions of acre-feet of runoff was mostly let out to sea. Nothing since has been learned.
California has again been experiencing rain and cold that could approach seasonal records. The state has been soaked by some 18 trillion gallons of rain in February alone. With still no effort to expand California’s water storage capacity, millions of acre-feet of runoff are once again cascading out to sea (and may be sorely missed next year).
The inability to build reservoirs is especially tragic given that the state’s high-speed rail project has gobbled up more than $5 billion in funds without a single foot of track laid. The total cost soared from an original $40 billion promise to a projected $77 billion. To his credit, newly elected governor Gavin Newsom, fearing a budget catastrophe, canceled the statewide project while allowing a few miles of the quarter-built Central Valley “track to nowhere” to be finished.
For years, high-speed rail has drained the state budget of transportation funds that might have easily updated nightmarish stretches of the Central Valley’s Highway 99, or ensured that the nearby ossified Amtrak line became a modern two-track line.
California politicians vie with each other to prove their open-borders bona fides in an effort to appeal to the estimated 27 percent of Californians who were not born in the United States.
But the health, educational, and legal costs associated with massive illegal immigration are squeezing the budget. About a third of the California budget goes to the state’s Medicare program, Medi-Cal. Half the state’s births are funded by Medi-Cal, and in nearly a third of those state-funded births, the mother is an undocumented immigrant.
California is facing a perfect storm of homelessness. Its labyrinth of zoning and building regulations discourages low-cost housing. Its generous welfare benefits, non-enforcement of vagrancy and public health laws, and moderate climate draw in the homeless. Nearly one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in the state, and nearly one in five live below the poverty line.
The result is that tens of thousands of people live on the streets and sidewalks of the state’s major cities, where primeval diseases such as typhus have reappeared.
California’s progressive government seems clueless how to deal with these issues, given that solutions such as low-cost housing and strict enforcement of health codes are seen as either too expensive or politically incorrect.
In sum, California has no margin for error.
Spiraling entitlements, unwieldy pension costs, money wasted on high-speed rail, inadequate water storage and delivery, and lax immigration policies were formerly tolerable only because about 150,000 Californians paid huge but federally deductible state income taxes.
No more. Californians may have once derided the state’s 1 percent as selfish rich people. Now, they are praying that these heavily burdened taxpayers stay put and are willing to pay far more than what they had paid before.
That is the only way California can continue to spend money on projects that have not led to safe roads, plentiful water, good schools, and safe streets.
A California reckoning is on the horizon, and it may not be pretty.